Tom Petty fans everywhere will be noting and celebrating what would have been the late rock icon’s 70th birthday today. Listeners across the globe will dial up their favorites from more than a dozen studio albums the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter shared before his untimely passing in 2017. When they make their playlists, particularly if they lean toward Petty’s greatest hits, a pair of tracks from his remarkable 1989 solo debut Full Moon Fever are sure to be featured: “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
We asked some Tom Petty fans to share which of these two tracks they favored in a head-to-head battle for their music-loving hearts. We fully expected and did receive votes for songs other than these – “American Girl,” “Refugee,” “You Got Lucky,” “Free Fallin'” and more obscure tracks, too. One nominator just sent the entire lyric, “You think you're gonna take her away with your money and your cocaine,” from “Listen to Her Heart” to make his point. We didn’t tell these fans “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” After all, they were simply expressing their ongoing love for this beloved, departed artist. But, once we got back to the question at hand, the results were pretty evenly split. Half loved the idea of the fight in “I Won’t Back Down,” and the other half preferred the notion of flight in “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
But, one Tom Petty fan, whose interest in music has taken Instagram by storm, shared a unique take on how the songs actually complement each other. Caroline Favorite curates IG’s popular, music-themed gallery Carol’s Vinyl & Variants. The Alabama resident has become one of the platform's resident music influencers, thanks to nearly 800 posts featuring some of the nearly 2,000 albums she currently owns. Each photogenic entry also features a blurb about the showcased album, written by Favorite and designed to educate readers and share the joy of music.
In nearly four years, the page has amassed almost 20,000 followers, in addition to plenty of Facebook followers. Favorite admits she doesn’t own Full Moon Fever, but it’s not for lack of trying.
“I have only two (Petty) albums in my collection right now, Damn The Torpedoes and Southern Accents, but I do have the box set of Wildflowers on its way to me,” she said. “With my collection, I usually only purchase the vinyl if I find it out in the wild. I live in the South and Tom Petty is God, so finding his vintage albums in good shape is very hard. They are usually scooped up before I get to them!”
Favorite said she collects CDs and cassettes too but started stockpiling vinyl records about 12 years ago. She fell into the pursuit at the perfect time, she said, just before the first resurgence in vinyl album interest. Her collection was jump-started by several records received from a family friend.
"Music is my number one love. It always has been since the moment I can remember anything. I love fun facts and most of all learning about the creation of an album, song, band, artist, genre," she said. "I started my page because I wanted to share my treasures and stories that I love with the world. Simple as that. I am beyond blessed and throughout this account I’ve been able to work with bands, artists, companies and labels I never could have imagined.
“And I collect everything," she stressed, "all genres; but, approximately 75 percent of my collection is of the rock music genre because it’s my favorite. I own the entire discography of the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and Britney Spears.”
Read a few of her Instagram entries and you’ll learn Favorite is insightful on the personal reasons we gravitate to certain songs and artists, including Tom Petty.
“I love Tom Petty because of his unmatched songwriting. I fell for him a long time ago when I heard his first duet with Stevie Nicks, 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around.' That song really rips your heart out, pun intended,” she noted. “My parents played his music all the time while I was growing up but it was that song that truly made me a fan of him. Their other duets, 'Insider' and 'I Will Run to You' are perfection, too. Unfortunately, I never caught him live but one of my best friends, Leighlee, and her family used to go on tour with him, so I live vicariously through her stories.”
Favorite designs each post's photo concept. She’s worked with a few talented photographers, but usually she shoots the pictures with a self-timer and edits with various photo apps. She shared a new photo specifically for this piece and then addressed our question: of the two choices, which Tom Petty song is her favorite? She chose “I Won’t Back Down.” Like any good music blogger, she offered a well-reasoned explanation for her selection.
“'I Won’t Back Down' because it’s one of the most incredibly written songs of all time. Also, the motto of the song is just as you would think, never backing down, but it also means so much more than that,” she suggested. “I think that 'Runnin' Down A Dream' is powerful too because it’s not about running from your problems but chasing after something you love. The reason why 'I Won’t Back Down' resonates more is because in order to run down that dream you have to have the mindset to never back down, especially when things don’t go the way that you want.
“Tom Petty’s songwriting was something unique and inspiring to most musicians because of the way he paints a story into his songs. I’m a cinematic thinker so I appreciate lyrics and melodies that paint my mind when I listen,” she continued. "Also, 'I Won't Back Down' is a song that will always be timeless. It’s a reminder that time won’t break you from achieving the things you want in life, the only thing that will break you is yourself. This song stamps his legacy’s longevity in our hearts and minds. Long live Tom Petty.”