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Old 10.03.2017, 07:16 PM   #4
The Soup Nazi
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A February 2008 entry from Carrie Brownstein's Monitor Mix blog:

Quote:
Giant

The Super Bowl is a uniquely American event. But this year it felt more symbolically American than other championship games in recent memory. It wasn't merely two teams competing, but also two American ideals pitted against each other: Perfection, as embodied by The New England Patriots; and overcoming doubts and obstacles to achieve greatness, as exemplified by The New York Giants. As much as we strive for, or claim to exalt, perfection, it was interesting how many people, including myself, were hoping for an upset by the Giants, for them to mar an otherwise flawless season by the Patriots.

Within this context—a battle between grit and glamor—Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were the ideal Super Bowl half time performers. There was little that Fox or the producers could do to super size or glamorize the performance. No amount of lights or camera trickery could produce action that wasn't there. Petty is no spectacle. He and his band looked like dads dressed up at their daughter's wedding. Petty played some of his best-known songs, from "American Girl" to "I Won't Back Down". The delivery was staid and earnest, with very little flash. The drama and movement of Petty's songs have always been in the lyrics themselves, or in the stripping down of the excess, the sudden emphasis on a perfectly constructed chord progression. "American Girl" sounds like it could have been written in recent years. (It almost was, by The Strokes on their debut album.). And "Free Fallin", a meditation on life, love, and loss, was sung by tens of thousands in the crowd. It was a more heartfelt moment of togetherness than the one conjured by American Idol's Jordin Spark's delivery of our national anthem.

Tom Petty came of age when the earnestness in music was beginning to wane, when disco, glam rock, mythic tales, and pretty boys were all the rage. What Petty's albums lacked in high concept they made up for in structure and solidity. With his modest looks and without gimmicks: no monsters to tame or to slay, no superfluousness at all really, he and his band made records that have outlasted his more outlandish peers. Springsteen is the other survivor from that era. But while Springsteen is a street preacher, with always an air of sacredness and rage to his songs, Petty is more of a street sweeper. His songs speak of what's been left behind or used up, and they put a polish on what we thought to be dull and dreary. His best songs are bursts of possibility born from dinginess, from nothingness; the guitars jangle, the choruses lift you up, and all the while Petty's voice is there to keep things earthbound.

Not many musicians can say that their tour started at the Super Bowl. Beginning yesterday in Glendale, Petty and his band will traverse across the US on and off until August, playing multiple nights at stadiums and amphitheaters. Maybe so many people love Tom Petty because he, like The Giants, is an underdog. With millions of records sold, he may not seem like one; but if you listen, his songs tell a different story.
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