If he’s a secret asshole, please don’t let me know.
He’s from Florida:
But doesn’t seem like he’s from Florida. Floridians are noted grossies*, and while there is definitely a tinge of strangeness on the guy, it’s a charming kind of strangeness. Like he could be from Texas, or Belgium.
He has a fireproof house:
In 1987, an arsonist (still unknown) burned Petty’s home to the ground. He and his family escaped unharmed, but basically everything was destroyed, and it rightfully freaked him out. Nevertheless, dude forged on and rebuilt on the property using fireproof materials, which is exactly what a wealthy person should do.
“American Girl” in Silence of the Lambs:
Yes yes, we all remember “Goodbye Horses” during Buffalo Bill’s dick-tucking scene, but to me, the far creepier music usage is when poor young Catherine Martin is driving along listening to “American Girl” just before stupidly helping a stranger — a murderous stranger. I now cannot listen to that song alone, in a vehicle, at night. And I think it’s fun to be creeped out by Tom Petty, the most innocuous dude in rock.
King of the Hill:
I’ve often had to unfairly defend my love of King of the Hill, one of the most consistent shows to ever make America kind of chuckle. Towards the end of its run, Petty portrayed Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt, a thorough white-trash stereotype with a simple mind and bizarre moral code. In lesser hands, this character could have caused great offense; not with our guy Tom! Lucky was the greatest cartoon character voiced by a musician since Harry Connick Jr. played that beatnik in The Iron Giant.
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* Not all Floridians are gross.