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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8. "Breakdown"

"We were passionate kids," Petty said, describing his band's mood during the recording of "Breakdown." Petty came up with the slinky, eerily spare R&B-influenced song while taking a late-night break at Hollywood's Shelter Studios during sessions for his first album. "It was one or two in the morning, and I called the Heartbreakers and had them all come back," he recalled. "They had all gone home. They came back at two or three in the morning, and we cut the song." The track originally went on for more than seven minutes, but it was eventually shortened to less than half that length when it was released as Petty and the Heartbreakers' debut single. Driven by a drum track that was inspired by the clipped, anticipatory beat on the Beatles' 1963 song "All I've Got to Do," and featuring one of Mike Campbell's most memorable guitar licks, it just made the Top 40. As Petty proudly said later, "It's really a perfect little record, isn't it?" 

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