Song of the Day #1,502: ‘King’s Highway’ – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

The next group of artists in my musical genome belong to a category I’m labeling “FOLK ROCK DERIVATIVES.”

The way I see it, most modern rock music derives either from folk, pop or the blues. I have examples of all three in the 35 artists I’m featuring during this series, but I have designated categories for only the first two.

The reason I’m calling this group of bands “FOLK ROCK DERIVATIVES” and not just folk rockers is they have all moved well past those roots into many different styles of music. But there’s no denying their earliest influences.

Take Tom Petty, who over a 40-year career has dabbled in southern rock, blues, new wave and psychedelia. He got his start emulating folk rock pioneers The Byrds, naming Roger McGuinn as a personal hero. Petty recorded a note-for-note cover of The Byrd’s ‘Feel a Whole Lot Better’ on Full Moon Fever, and the track fit in seamlessly with his own compositions.

Petty doesn’t really fit into any of my other genome categories. He has tried his hand at a bit of “PURE POP” and on recent albums his Americana efforts could edge into “COUNTRY PLUS” territory, but those are reaches. He’s the second single category artist on this list (I’ll be keeping track, to better arrive at a grand unifying theory).

When the time gets right
I’m gonna pick you up
And take you far way from trouble my love
Under big ol’ sky
Out in the field of green
There’s gotta be something left for us to believe

Oh, I await the day
Good fortune comes our way
And we ride down the Kings Highway

No you can’t hide out
In a six gun town
We wanna hold our heads up, but we gotta stay down
I don’t wanna end up
In room all alone
Don’t wann end up someone that I don’t even know



2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,502: ‘King’s Highway’ – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

  1. Dana says:

    I’ll buy that classification for Petty. By all rights, maybe I shouldn’t like Petty as much as I do given his southern rock roots and the twang in his voice. But the quality of his songs wins out and keeps him in good stead with me.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m not sure I’m sold on the label “folk rock derivatives,” but I definitely think that this category – whatever its label – is where my favorite musical artists live.

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