Tom Petty, a Secret Punk on Rock’s Mount Rushmore

Tom Petty, a Secret Punk on Rock’s Mount Rushmore


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Tom Petty learned from his elders, but put his own deliberate spin on rock ’n’ roll.

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Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

Tom Petty, who died this week at 66, was a student and a synthesizer of the rock of the 1960s — both the poppy and the rootsy kind. When he delivered his take on it, it felt deliberate, calm, almost daring in its certainty. At times, his nerviness even felt a little punk.

That approach made for a formidable catalog, with several platinum albums and a host of rock radio hits. A couple of decades into his career, Mr. Petty became part of the rock ’n’ roll Mount Rushmore the Traveling Wilburys, a testament to how thoroughly he’d imbibed at the well of his elders. Up through this year, he’d continued releasing albums and touring, a singer who had always felt like a stalwart actually becoming one.

On this week’s Popcast, Mr. Caramanica talks about Mr. Petty’s long and sturdy career with Jon Pareles, the chief pop music critic for The New York Times, who has been watching Mr. Petty in action since the late 1970s.

Email your questions, thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in pop music to popcast@nytimes.com.



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