Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers released their first album in 1976. On reflection 18 years later, Tom remarked, "I like a lot of that whole first album today. I still think it's a really good collection of songs. Some of it sounds kind of naïve and silly, but it just adds to the charm to me personally...I’ve certainly seen a lot more of life...You have to live life in order to write songs."

Of music, Tom confessed, "...I was consumed by rock and roll as a kid. It was the only thing I had any interest in...I have to force myself sometimes to do other things so I won’t be a total bore. I think it must have been my total preoccupation with music that kept me going during those times when nothing seemed to be happening...Rock and roll came over me like a fever that I never got rid of, consumed me like a poison – completely consumed me to where I can honestly say I didn’t think of anything else. It was all I could do, think or anything."

"You’ve got to play live," drummer Stan Lynch believed. "You hear people talking about how they hate the road and want to just make videos or movies, but I can’t see it. There’s something that can only happen when you get an audience and a band together. With a video it’s safe. But when you go on stage, it can be either a great night or a disaster. It’s something everyone there remembers. You’re part of something special."

In 1987, Tom and The Heartbreakers  recorded more than 24 songs over one month for the 'Let Me Up' album. "It was effortless," Tom remembered, "We came up with a song a day. I thought it must be trash since it came so easily, but as we went on we realized we were making a great album. The rules of the session were when the first guy gets there you roll tape until the last guy’s gone, so some of these songs were being written as the tape was running. That’s why I had to fade so many songs up and out, because there weren’t real beginnings and endings. It was all live tracking." On reflection 20 years later, he admitted, "There's something special about this group of people. I treasure it now because one link in the chain gone can make it all go away."

In 1988, he formed the band Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison, "I felt maybe, in a way, some cosmic way, that was given to me..." It all started on Thanksgiving Day 1987, "So I’m at the traffic light, and I look over to my left, and there’s Jeff Lynne, who I’d only just recently seen in England. So I honked my horn, and he turned around, and we pulled over.....Jeff and George both started to come to my house a lot and we'd just sit around and play...It was very refreshing."

Of Bob, Tom made the observation, "It’s funny but people still attach a lot of mystery to Bob…I mean, Dylan's just a guy like anybody else – except he's a guy who has something to say. And he has a personality that makes it his own. There's not many people that can walk into a room of 20,000, stare at them and get their attention. That’s not an easy trick." Of his songs Bob made known, "Every song I sing is a protest song. You know, everybody sees a different message. I guess, so you have to figure out what it is. It’s like looking at a painting and everybody sees something different."

Tom theorized in 2006, "All the craft I've picked up and all the life experience I've had rolled into a place where making records is easier. If I get an idea, I know how to put it down. When I was a kid, that was the struggle. Now I can do what rolls through my head without a lot of effort. It validates the idea of being in rock and roll when you're 55."

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