Tom Petty's 50 Greatest Songs

His hits have defined rock radio since the Seventies, and he never stopped writing great music. Here's the definitive guide to his best songs

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31. "American Dream Plan B"

"I knew I wanted to do a rock & roll record," Petty told Rolling Stone of 2014's Hypnotic Eye. "We hadn't made a straight hard-rockin' record, from beginning to end, in a long time." The album recalled the tough, hungry intensity of the Heartbreakers' debut and You're Gonna Get It!, especially its gut-punch opening track, "American Dream Plan B." The growling guitar riff is one of their hardest ever, and the lyric mixes resigned wit and up-against-the-wall defiance: "I'm half lit/I can't dance for shit/But I see what I want/I go after it," Petty sings. Amazingly, when Petty first played the song for his bandmates, they weren't impressed. "Silence," he said, recalling their initial response. "I said, 'Listen, I think we have something here, but we're going to have to get excited about it.'" Eventually, he brought them around, and it became one of their best late-period anthems, delivered with the fire of late-Seventies Heartbreakers and the feel and nuance of men who've been playing together for decades. "It's that band 30 years later," Petty said. 

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