Set List: MusiCares Person of the Year Salute to Tom Petty

by VVN Music

On Friday night, MusiCares held their annual benefit to salute an artist who has given back to the music community, this year honoring Tom Petty.

Held the same weekend as the Grammys every year, the event brought in an estimated $8.5 million that will be used to help musicians in need.

The event included a silent auction and dinner before a long list of artists took the stage to perform music from the Petty catalog including Randy Newman, George Strait, the Foo Fighters, Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams, Don Henley, the Bangles, Stevie Nicks and Jeff Lynne.

According to reports, the highlight of the evening was when Petty and his group the Heartbreakers took the stage for a six song set that included a number of guests. Petty also gave a heartfelt speech in accepting the honor.

Twenty years ago I would’ve been way too cynical to do this, but I’m 66 now. I thank you for this. It’s a great honor. I’ve watched the whole show backstage. I’m really at a loss for words. The music has been wonderful and I think all these artists for coming. I’d also, right off the bat, like to thank my band, the Heartbreakers. They’re such an important part of this.

I won't talk too long. I want to play a bit more music. We have some friends we brought with us. We’re gonna get to that. To be here in the presence of so many great American songwriters is amazing… Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Cassandra, Randy Newman.

It’s been about two years since I played with the Heartbreakers. Honestly, I’ve been producing records. We got together last week and rehearsed for this thing and I realized I may be in one of the two or three best rock and roll bands there is. I’m so proud of them.

I got into rock and roll at age 10. I was collecting records, rock nad roll records, the ‘roll’ designates there’s a swing in the roll. The music became popular and it empowered the youth of America. The government got very nervous, especially the Republicans. They put Elvis in the Army, they put Chuck Berry in jail. Things calmed down for a couple of years but it was too late. The music had reached England. In 1964, the Beatles came, I had my eyes opened like so many others and I joined the conspiracy to put black music on the popular white radio.

And rock and roll goes on. More like the blues or jazz now. There ain’t nothing like a good rock and roll band, people.

This is kind of a surreal moment and a surreal life. For some cosmic reason, so many of the artists that I adore came into my world without me calling. They just showed up and we played together and we became friends. The first one was Roger McGuinn and the Byrds who was there right away, it was my first record.

I know so many people here. Mo and Olivia are out there. Me and George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, one night, were at Mo Ostin’s house. We were just working on the idea of the Traveling Wilburys. I had written this song, Free Fallin', and done the record and taken it to my label, MCA, and they rejected the record. And that had never happened to me before. I was like ‘Wow, what do I do?’ So, we forgot about it.

And we were at Mo’s house at dinner and George said ‘Let’s get the guitars out and sing a little bit.’ And George said ‘Let’s get that Free Fallin’, Tom, play that. So we had a kind of Wilbury arrangement of harmony and we did it and Lenny Waronker is sitting there and he said ‘That’s a hit.’ With two acoustic guitars. And I said, ‘Wow, my record company won’t put it out.’ And Mo said, ‘I’ll fuckin’ put it out.’

Sorry, I’m trying so hard to be good. I got my wife who’s here, my daughter Adria… I’m on my best behavior tonight. I got into town in 1974 and I was signed by Denny Cordell to Leon Russell’s Shelter Records. Leon brought me over to his house. He liked the songs I’d done. He said, ‘If it comes to a thing where we need some words I need you to be here, and I’ll pay you for it. The first session, in comes George Harrison, Ringo and Jim Keltner, and they didn’t need any words because those cats are so cool.

We were hanging out and I found myself slipping my sunglasses on. Leon said, ‘What the hell you doing with dark glasses, man?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. it feels cool. Like Jimmy Keltner, he has his.’ He said, ‘Wearing sunglasses at night is an honor you earn. Lou Adler had Johnny Rivers and the Mamas and the Papas before he put them glasses on. Jack Nicholson made really shitty Boris Karloff movies before he put the glasses on.’ Well, I’m putting my glasses on but I thank Leon for that advice.

I was fortunate enough to know the great Johnny Cash. I loved him since I saw him on the Hootenanny television show in 1962, filmed in Gainesville, Florida. I actually didn’t see him that week. The paper said he was a little loopy and punched a policeman and did not appear that night. I loved all of his songs: Hey, Porter, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Big River. You want to be a songwriter, just listen to Big River about 50 times and you’ll write something but we made an album together, Johnny and the Heartbreakers, and it won a Grammy for best country record of the year, without ever being played once on the country stations but that’s all right because it was actually a rock and roll record. Johnny was pretty rock and roll.

This morning, I was looking through a file and a card fell out, and it was from John, on my 50th birthday. It said, ‘Happy birthday. You’re a good man to ride the river with.’ And that’s all I wanted to be, a good man to ride the river with. I’m gonna keep riding’ the river. Thank you.

The set list:
  • Refugee - Randy Newman
  • You Wreck Me - George Strait
  • American Girl - Elle King
  • Hometown Blues - Taj Mahal
  • Time to Move On - Norah Jones
  • You Don’t Know How It Feels - Norah Jones
  • Honey Bee - Foo Fighters
  • Break Down - Foo Fighters and Gary Clark Jr.
  • Walls - The Lumineers
  • Mary Jane's Last Dance - Cage the Elephant
  • The Waiting - Jackson Browne
  • Learning to Fly - Jackson Browne
  • Rebels - Lucinda Williams
  • Good Enough - Gary Clark Jr.
  • I Forgive It All - Regina Spektor
  • Southern Accents - Lucinda Williams
  • Love is a Long Road - Jakob Dylan
  • You Got Lucky - The Head and the Heart
  • Listen to Her Heart - The Shelters
  • Free Fallin’ - Don Henley
  • Wildflowers - Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
  • Waiting for Tonight - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with the Bangles
  • Don’t Come Around Here No More - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with the Bangles
  • Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks
  • Insider - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks
  • I Won’t Back Down - Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

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