Exclusive Interview: Tom Petty on Recording 'Mojo' Page 5


The way that you, Mike, and Benmont have worked together over the years has been consistent. If any of those three elements weren't a part of it, things may not have gone the way they went. It's the perfect trinity.
It was, and it still is. I was as amazed as anybody else that they fell into my life the way they did. I think the one thing we had going for us was that we had very similar record collections. We liked the same sort of stuff, and they were real open to whatever I was trying to write.

In terms of the records you guys had, are we talking things like Buddy Holly and Little Willie John? How deep did it go?
Well, we couldn't really afford expansive record collections [chuckles], but that was one good thing about getting a record deal - we got free records! I had never been around anything like that. I just thought it was heaven to get to go home with a stack of albums.

But I liked everything. I liked most of the rock that I heard on the radio in the early '60s. We liked the British bands from '64, '65, and '66 a lot, and soul music - or rhythm & blues, I guess they called it. A little later we got into the blues, around '68 and '69. We liked good country music, too - George Jones, Tammy Wynette, that kind of stu. . And the Byrds, we liked the Byrds quite a bit.

You found that the better acts led you in a lot of directions, influence-wise. Through the Stones, we found Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, all those things. Or buying a Slim Harpo album just because the Stones had done "[I'm a] King Bee" [on their self-titled 1964 debut]. I thought, "Ahhh, maybe I'll give this a try." It's from an album called Raining in My Heart [1961, on Excello; the song was recorded in 1957]. I loved every track on that record.'

Your Buried Treasure show and Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, both on Deep Tracks on Sirius XM, make listening to the radio worthwhile. I usually have a pad of paper near me wherever I'm tuning in, and if I hear something I don't know, I write it down. And if I find out I don't have it, I go and buy it.
How nice! I buy the records, too. I love that. I'm the same way. I will continue to pay for the music. If I hear something I like, I'll go buy it. Especially when I started doing the radio show - if I hear something, I'll write it down so I remember it. It sustains me.

I don't know how many people take the time to sit down and listen to an album straight through anymore - but I do. And I look at it that way when I'm making one, too. It's a piece unto itself. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's the art of making an album.