Near the end of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 2006 tour they booked a gig in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida, to celebrate their 30th anniversary and to give director Peter Bogdanovich some new footage for his documentary Runnin’ Down a Dream.
As the cameras rolled, they ran through familiar hits like “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Learning to Fly” along with covers like Van Morrison’s old “Mystic Eyes” and Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man.”
The highlight of the show was “Southern Accents,” the title track of Petty’s 1985 LP. “There’s a Southern accent, where I come from,” Petty sings. “The young ‘uns call it country, the Yankees call it dumb.” He hadn’t played the track since a 1993 Gainesville show. This 2006 performance was so strong, however, that he found room for it on his 2009 Live Anthology and Bogdanovich used footage of it near the end of his movie.
Southern Accents is Petty’s least cohesive LP. It began as a concept album about the South, but when producer David A. Stewart entered the picture and helped them write pop songs like “Don’t Come Around Here No More” the theme got a little murky. There was also tremendous tension among members of the band. “There was some confusing chemicals involved at the time,” says Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. “It’s sort of a concept album, but you really have to stretch your imagination.”