Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On The Four-Hour Tom Petty Documentary On Netflix

  • I have not read Pushkin; I could have read Pushkin this afternoon, but instead I watched a dry recounting of the career of swamp rocker and his unattractive band.
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers do not have a Bobby: the drummer and the original bass player were horse-faces; Mike Campbell looks like a blurry copy of Brian May; the second bass player, Howie Klein, looked like a racist cartoon of a Jew.
  • And then there’s Tom: his face is a knife-edge, with flat cheeks and temples retreating from a sharp nose and chin.
  • It is a spectacular nose.
  • Tom Petty’s nose was first summited in 1979 by a German called Heinrich von Schlongenweis and three Sherpas whose names were not written down.
    • English producer smoking and drinking while telling stories about committing felonies.
    • Johnny Depp.
    • Keyboardist getting progressively balder.
    • Scarves.
    • Fight with the record company.
    • Tom’s first wife is not named, but there are multiple glamour shots of his new, younger, blonde, big-titted wife.
    • Everyone is wearing sunglasses indoors.
    • Dave Grohl.
    • The divorce record.
    • Several participants in a firing remember the firing differently.
  • Peter Bogdanovich directed this, which I did not know at the time; I’m glad, because I would have been picturing him sitting there in his stupid ascot and gotten annoyed.
  • (TotD distrusts all men who make a habit of non-standard neckwear. If you’re from New Mexico, you can wear a bolo tie, but otherwise it’s a straight tie for suits, a bow tie for tuxes, and that’s fucking it unless you’re a 70-year-old British aristocrat who solves crimes as a hobby. That guy? Lord Sniffingshire? He can rock the ascot. That’s fucking it.)
  • Jim Ladd, the deejay, was in it; I did not like that.
  • Not that he was particularly weird-looking.
  • It’s just that Jim Ladd’s voice comes out of my radio, not a person, and it was disconcerting to have his formerly super-positional appearance–he could’ve looked like anyone!–coalesce into a single visual point.
  • (I may be thinking about this too much.)
  • Speaking of radio: Tom Petty his own channel on the SiriusXM network (31, I think) and it might have the highest stay/leave ratio of any of my presets.
  • (Also up there: Outlaw Country and the Elvis Channel. Holy shit, do I love the Elvis Channel. Pulling up the rear: JamOn. Holy shit, is there never anything good on there.)
  • “Benmont Tench” sounds like a character from a Faulkner novel.
  • I also could have been reading Faulkner while I was watching a four-hour documentary about Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
  • Best Florida band, hands down: the less said about Molly Hatchett and .38 Special the better, and I sincerely prefer Pitbull to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Pitbull is Mr. Worldwide, and his songs are about everyone having a good time together, and also ladies’ asses.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd makes me want to pretend to be Christian until I’m safely out of whatever room I’m in.
  • Best career move they ever made was skipping the pre-flight check.
  • (Confession time: I love Pitbull, both in the way you might expect me to love him, and also sincerely. I like the whole thing he’s got with the short trousers and the slip-on loafers with no socks. He’s also a terrible rapper, which means I can rap along with him, which I cannot do with skilled rappers. Plus I once read an article about him that described him taking a meeting about investing in some companies, and the only thing Pitbull wanted to know about the companies was how disruptive they were going to be.
  • He clearly didn’t understand exactly what it meant, but that didn’t stop him from rephrasing the question five times in a row. “Are we talking a big disruption or a little one?” and “Does the disruption start immediately?” and “Disruption?”
  • I also find the shape of his skull appealing.)
  • Please don’t string parenthetical asides over multiple bullet points.
  • You’re not my father.
  • Stop talking about Pitbull’s head and get back to Tom Petty.
  • Leave now or I summon Elvis.
  • You can’t summon a character in the middle of bullet–




thwip thwip thwip thwip thwip

thwip thwip thwip thwip thwip



  • Did you just blowdart Elvis?
  • Eleven times
  • You know he’s gonna be pissed when he come to.
  • Your problem.
  • Or John Mayer’s.
  • Sure. Talk about Tom Petty.
  • Fine.
  • The Heartbreakers were (and are) a good live band, but not great: no great drummer, no great band.
  • Oddly, the documentary did not delve into Tom Petty’s role as “Tom Petty” in 1997’s Kevin Costner’s Il Postino.
  • (For the Younger Enthusiasts: Kevin Costner (Superman’s dad) was Hollywood’s biggest star for a minute after he made the movie about baseball and the other movie about Indians. In short succession, he followed these critical and financial hits with Waterworld and The Postman. The former was an entertaining-enough piece of schlock, but it cost (in today’s money) $280 million to make; The Postman, on the other hand, was expensive and awful. Once again, it was the post-apocalypse, and once again Kevin Costner played the plain-talkin’ messiah.
  • But whereas Waterworld had huge and impressive visuals–they built a giant floating citadel off the coast of Hawaii and flung jet-skis against it–The Postman was dreary and clichéd and brown and three goddamned hours long, and featured several lengthy scenes of Kevin Costner ambling in between towns while he talked to a donkey.
  • It’s also completely insane: The Postman is not an allusive title. Kevin Costner saves America via the power of regular parcel delivery. I can’t remember whether he was a mailman before the apocalypse or not, but he just decides one day to resume the mail service and people see him as the spirit of America or something. There’s also a bad guy.
  • And Tom Petty.
  • This is a post about Tom Petty.
  • Now, Tom Petty is a sly and funny man who has done some acting, but all his appearances previous to this film were playing himself. No problem! says Kevin Costner, and so The Postman posits a post-apocalypse where Tom Petty has lived through the apocalypse to become the mayor of a small settlement of survivors.
  • And, you know, no disrespect to Mr. Petty, but he’s not making it through the apocalypse. If any rock star is going to, it’s going to be Nugent. It pains me to say it, too, but you cannot disagree that the man is prepared to ride out the storm.)
  • What did I tell you about the parentheticals?
  • That they were getting divorced.
  • No, that’s the Parentheticals.
  • They seemed so happy.
  • From one perspective; from another, they looked sad.
  • Sure.
  • You done with Tom  Petty?
  • A little.
  • Go get a coffee and a breather, champ.
  • Yeah.


  1. Great name, Benmont Tench.

    But he had better be British, is he British?

  2. Pretty sure Pitbull has a Sirius channel too. I’m still puzzled by the fact that the Phosh doesn’t have a channel. I would totally put that in my presets.

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      March 12, 2017 at 12:41 am

      It’s downright odd. Big fan base in the correct demographic, 30 years worth of material.

      And I’m not a Phosh Person, but they objectively don’t deserve to share a channel with Twiddle or Turquaz.

      • Jam On is disappointing for sure. It’s not like it would cost them much. I’m sure a real Phosh Person would volunteer to program it for free.

  3. Better than the Allman Brothers, creed , miami sound machine, and 2 live crew?

    Thoughts on Florida bands could be an interesting side trip.

  4. Is Dylan allowed to wear a bolo tie?

    I always thought Lynryd Skynryd was odd: they’re in favor of gun control (Saturday night special), and they’re against drugs (That Smell). And they defend slavery (Sweet Home Alabama).

  5. Tom Petty must have 0.0% indie in him.

    Because if that number was any higher, “Thurston Moore Interview” would have been included in the Rock Doc Cliche Alert List.

    • (I knew Thurston was going to leave Kim as soon as I noticed that he had finally removed his giant distracting mole for his Indie Rock Interview appearances. You don’t subject your wife to that for 25 years then cut it off unless you’re macking strange ladies on the side).

  6. Jam On does function as extreme vetting for unknown jambands. I only listen when I am driving my wife’s car, iPod is my preference as I program that mug.

    I would offer The Outlaws in the Florida Band sweepstakes, at least the original group. They had some pop in the beginning.

    Everytime I think of TP the memory of that creepy video returns and I will always see him as the Mad Hatter. Catchy tunes tho.

  7. Nobody’s gonna mention the Tampa Bay death metal scene and Morrissounds Studio in the Best Florida Band Sweepstakes?

    Besides me, I mean?

    Death? Obituary? Morbid Angel? Deicide?



  8. Luther Von Baconson

    March 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    just gotta run down that Dream. Follow it-like.

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