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500 Greatest Albums Podcast: How Tom Petty Turned Personal Pain into ‘Wildflowers’

Petty never stopped thinking about his 1994 masterpiece – in fact, it was on his mind the week before he died. In the latest episode of our new series on Amazon Music, Petty’s family and bandmates explain why

Petty at Atlanta's Lakewood Amphitheater on April 15th, 1995.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

In the latest episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, our new podcast on Amazon Music, we go inside the emotional true story of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, a 1994 solo album that Petty thought was the best work of his career. Long after he released it, Petty never could stop thinking about Wildflowers; in fact, it was on his mind right before he died.

Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone of the Heartbreakers along with Petty’s daughter Adria, wife Dana and Wildflowers Executive Producer George Drakoulias, join host Brittany Spanos to discuss how the album was born over a fraught two-year stretch marked by the breakdown of Petty’s first marriage and a period of depression and uncertainty that followed. This mental state produced songs like “It’s Good To Be King” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” that seem light and cheerful on the surface, but are actually expressing deep pain. We also share unheard audio from the Rolling Stone archives of Petty speaking about Wildflowers and his hopes for a deluxe edition — one that his family and bandmates just made happen, with this year’s excellent box set Wildflowers and All the Rest. Later in the episode, Rolling Stone staffers David Browne, Angie Martoccio, and Andy Greene join host Brittany Spanos to discuss the album’s legacy.

In September, Rolling Stone unveiled the new version of the 500 Greatest Albums poll. It’s a completely updated version of our most read, most argued-over list ever, made with help from a group of voters that included Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and members of U2, as well as writers, critics, and figures from across the music industry.

Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums goes inside the making and the meaning of 10 albums from the list, featuring fresh stories from the artists who recorded them and insights from the Rolling Stone staff.

The podcast appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with new episodes each week. Listen the full Wildflowers episode –  and every episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums right here.

From Rolling Stone US