A classic among rock n’ roll’s greatest, Tom Petty is the type of artist that never really fades away. He simply refuses to slow down.
It’s as if he feels challenged to prove himself, so he continues to put out music. To his fans, Petty has nothing left to prove his brilliance with a guitar and a microphone.
Highway Companion is Petty’s newest album, released this past July 25. To show that he still has it, Petty scrolls the music charts in Highway Companion, playing guitar, drums, harmonica, electric piano, bass, keyboards, lead vocals and backup vocals.
In a Rolling Stone review of Highway Companion, Alan Light said, “In a career that has now reached its thirtieth year, Tom Petty has never made a bad album.”
For some artists, their attempts to regain the glory they experienced entire decades ago end up sounding like they were produced in the retirement home.
Just the opposite can be said for Petty, who has slowed down but not lost his magical touch for rock n’ roll.
Most albums hint towards where an artist is in their life and what things are on their minds.
Highway Companion hides nothing that is on Petty’s heart at this point in his career.
At the age of 55, Petty has much to reflect on. His lyrics offer words of wisdom to the young and are filled with the emotions of an aging American man.
Petty writes, in the lyrics to “Flirting With Time”: “This could well be your last stand/Hold the sunlight in your hand/Spread your fingers/Feel the sand fall through/I’ve done all I can do/Now it’s up to you/You’re flirting with time baby/Flirting with time and maybe/Time Baby/Is catching up with you.”
“Saving Grace” is clearly Petty’s hit single from Highway Companion.
The other tracks cover Petty’s footsteps as he relives lessons learned and memories of his youth. A sentimental whisper can be felt in songs “Square One,” “Flirting with Time,” “Down South” and “Damaged by Love.” Others simply reflect on times now gone, with that special Petty touch in each.
Highway Companion would be a sweet ending to Petty’s prestigious career. It would be the perfect encore that came, unexpected, when fans thought Petty could reach no higher accomplishments.
But he has already done what few expected him to. Highway Companion may be Petty’s graceful exit from the stage, but maybe he still has something left. You can never tell with Tom Petty.