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Tom Petty and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9465-9


xiv + 234 pages


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Tom Petty and Philosophy

We Need to Know

Edited by Randall E. Auxier and Megan Volpert
Volume 124 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

“A great song has worlds inside of it. And Tom Petty wrote a lot of them. But too often we don’t stop to explore, question, consider, knock on a few of the doors that appear down a great song’s corridors. In this collection, some thoughtful writers have come together to show us how they did it. It stands as a testament both to the strength of Petty’s songwriting and record-making and the possibilities that remain as regards writing about music.”

 —Warren Zanes, author of Petty: The Biography (2015)

“Maybe because he simply made it all look easy, Tom Petty never received the unanimous critical glory bestowed upon more obvious geniuses. But now that his career is complete, the world is gradually awakening to what his fans have known all along: Tom was plugged directly into the original juice of rock’n’roll, injecting that authenticity into everything he ever touched. This collection of deeply thoughtful, dimensional chapters goes a long way in setting the record straight. In each, the author bears witness to the profound impact of Tom’s music on our lives, and also our thoughts.”

 — Paul Zollo, author of Conversations with Tom Petty

 “Tom Petty would have hated this book. And that’s why it’s necessary—to give new context to songs and an oeuvre that defied his own explanation.”

— Neil Strauss, contributing editor, Rolling Stone

 “This is a fun appraisal of Tom Petty’s masterful musical works as viewed through the framework of both classical and modern philosophical theory. Tom Petty and Philosophy is recommended for both the fan and the student of rock.”

— Nick Thomas, author of Tom Petty: An American Rock and Roll Story (2014)

 “Just as no single musical genre easily ensnares Petty’s musical catalogue, this book is—thankfully—not easily pigeonholed. It spans a wide range of topics. From whether Tom Petty was a feminist to whether the album Echo displays a situation of distress in Nietzsche’s sense, there’s something here for all Petty fans to ruminate and debate for years to come.”

— Clay Calvert, University of Florida professor teaching “Tom Petty 101”

 “Seventeen curious, well-tuned writers (they’re fans, too) turn their philosophical attention to Tom Petty in this intellectually rigorous and wildly fun ‘little box set of big ideas’. In his hits, deep cuts, and videos they find complexity, ideas, and plenty of questions—plus some answers—about the human condition. I need to know, Petty once sang. These writers are really listening.”

—Joe Bonomo, author of Field Recordings from the Inside (2017) and editor of Conversations with Greil Marcus (2012)  

Randall E. Auxier is a musician and a professor of philosophy and communication studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of several books, including Metaphysical Graffiti: Deep Cuts in the Philosophy of Rock (2017), and editor or co-editor of many more, including Bruce Springsteen and Philosophy: Darkness on the Edge of Truth (2008).

Megan Volpert is the author of many books on communication and popular culture, including two Lambda Literary Award finalists. She edited the American Library Association–honored anthology, This Assignment Is So Gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching (2013) and is co-editor of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Philosophy (2019).

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