When Tom Petty was tabbed to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl, I thought it was both an inspired choice and richly deserved. And then, to my surprise, a hater parade commenced. People said he wasn’t big enough a star, that he was too old, blah-di-blah-blah.
Prominent in this chorus of naysayers – around here, anyway – was the Chronicle’s Ken Hoffman, who really should stick to the pro rasslin’ and funnel cake beat.
Hoffman was of the “he’s not enough of a superstar camp” and cited as proof what he branded as Petty’s limited singles chart success, stats that showed Petty had sold “only” 50-odd million records, and some judged survey of bands that ranked Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Tool ahead of Petty, who did not even make the top 100 bands of all time. He also said Petty’s influence on modern bands was minimal.
Well, Ken, if not Petty, then who? He didn’t say in the original article, but he got around to a couple of alternative booking ideas when he opened his mailbag a few days later.
It will surprise few of Hoffman’s regular readers that Bruce Springsteen was one of his ideas. Fine, but I happen to think Springsteen is as overrated as Petty is underpraised. Springsteen’s music resonates with people from the northeast, who mistake his Jersey poetry for universally beloved American music. Yankees are so provincial.
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But even so, there’s no denying that Springsteen is big enough to play the Super Bowl, if bigness is what we are looking for. And as it happened, with two northeastern teams in the game, Springsteen would have been a nice karmic fit.
Hoffman’s other choice is slightly more, um, problematic. He wrote, and I quote: “Dave Matthews Band would have been a better choice if the Super Bowl wanted a hot touring rock act.”
Except for this one inconvenient yet glaring fact: Dave Matthews sucks shit through a pink loop-de-loop straw. That is a fact. It is not up for debate. To prefer Matthews over Petty is as patently absurd as saying that Samkon Gado was a better running back than Earl Campbell ever was.