Song of the Day #3,399: ‘Square One’ – Tom Petty

Continuing my countdown of favorite Tom Petty albums, in honor of the late, great musician.

Tom Petty released three solo albums over the course of his 40-year career, and on their face they don’t differ all that much from his work with The Heartbreakers. In fact, almost every band member appears on each of those three records.

But there must be something to the distinction because (spoiler alert) all three of those solo albums show up in my top five.

#4 – Highway Companion (2006)

Petty’s third solo album, Highway Companion, followed two of his least successful releases, both critically and commercially — Echo and The Last DJ. With Traveling Wilbury’s bandmate Jeff Lynne on board as producer, Petty delivered one of his finest collections.

The album is populated with mostly mid-tempo soft rockers — this is probably the closest Petty ever got to an acoustic album. The lyrics and vocals show his age, beautifully. Wisdom and world-weariness seep through every measure, but so does Petty’s dry sense of humor.

Highway Companion is aptly titled. The album feels like time spent on the road with an old friend.

Had to find some higher ground
Had some fear to get around
You can’t say what you don’t know
Later on won’t work no more
Last time through I hid my tracks
So well I could not get back
Yeah my way was hard to find
Can’t sell your soul for peace of mind

Square one, my slate is clear
Rest your head on me my dear
It took a world of trouble, it took a world of tears
It took a long time to get back here

Try so hard to stand alone
Struggle to see past my nose
Always had more dogs than bones
I could never wear those clothes
It’s a dark victory
You won and you also lost
Told her you were satisfied
But it never came across

Square one, my slate is clear
Rest your head on me my dear
It took a world of trouble, it took a world of tears
It took a long time to get back here

Square one, my slate is clear
Rest your head on me my dear
It took a world of trouble, it took a world of tears
It took a long time to get back here

Square one, my slate is clear
Rest your head on me my dear
It took a world of trouble, it took a world of tears
It took a long time to get back here

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,399: ‘Square One’ – Tom Petty

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    For some reason, I am far less familiar with this album than I should be. I know the single “Flirting with Time,” but not much else. Given your high praise and ranking of the record, and how lovely the song you picked is, I clearly need to remedy my unfamiliarity.

  2. Amy says:

    As we’ve often discussed through the years, there are only so many listening hours in the day/week/year/life. When I reach for Tom Petty, I’m reaching for Full Moon Fever, Wildflowers or one of the singles I know and love. Therefore, like Dana, I haven’t sought out an album such as this one, though I’m sure it would become a quick favorite if I gave it its due. Thank you for putting it on my radar.

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