Petty’s legacy is one of great honourability. He sowed the seed that planted an everlasting impression on many future musicians with his renowned band ‘The Heartbreakers’. He has created tracks that have formed a perpetual landmark on the hearts of his beloved fans and has sold more than eighty million records worldwide. Sadly passing away in the October of 2017 at just sixty six, Petty’s esteemed body of work and illustrious projects have continued to inspire both his abundance of admirers and his close family. Fast forward to 2020 and the American performer has yet to stop releasing music. ‘Wildflowers and All The Rest’ is the long awaited record featuring a mix of unreleased tunes from Tom Petty and what is said to be a continuation of the 1994 masterpiece also named ‘Wildflowers’. While the album comes out on the 16th of October, singles have already been put out, giving listeners a compelling taste in what’s yet to come.
One of those singles is a track called ‘Leave Virginia Alone’ which has been paired with a modern-style music video to go along with it. You may have heard the tune previously sung by Rod Stewart, a take on one of Petty’s original ‘Wildflower’ recordings, with his distinguishably raspy vocals covering the sparkly Country Ballad. It’s clear the legendary singer-songwriter took the pen with deep thought when writing this strikingly charming track, it accompanies his ultra immaculate discography that has put him in a league of immense talent and artistry.
‘Leave Virginia Alone’ has a strong lyrical content which holds the song tightly and gives it a greater sense of meaning. Lyrics like ‘some sunny day when the hands of time have had their way you'll understand why it was so hard to run away’ carry so much weight with the light yet beautifully angelic instrumental recording. While Tom Petty has achieved enough of a prestigious influence as a performer on his own, it’s apparent that friends like Bob Dylan and George Harrison from their Supergroup ‘Traveling Wilburys’ have brushed up on each other, with this track easily being on any of the singer’s records. However, the tailored tone and pure feeling you get from the tune suits Petty the best and his marshmallow-like, bouncy-soft vocals run this song into a winning marathon of its own. ‘Leave Virginia Alone’ will please any Tom Petty fan, with it being an original recording from the Nineties, what’s not to like? If you’ve been following his journey from the beginning or were a die-hard follower of him and ‘The Heartbreakers’ back in the Seventies, then this track will be a blissful memory of the glory days and if you’re a younger listener hearing for the first time, Petty’s words that hold such a youthful outlook will for sure resonate with you in some way.
Then there’s the video, directed by Tom’s daughter Adria and Matt Seliger, it follows a young girl battling the spotlight of fame while frequently escaping reality through dance. That’s how I interpreted it anyways. The young girl plays the character of Virginia and is played by Netflix’s ‘Tiny Pretty Things’ star Casimere Jollette. Adria points out in an interview with SiriusXM that she ‘really wanted the song to do the heavy lifting in this video’ but I truly believe that it did the opposite. With the song being an old recording that has only now been released on the ‘Wildflowers and All The Rest’ record, the video just doesn’t fit the mood of the music nor is it even necessary. I feel like a singer as established as Tom Petty doesn’t need an extravagant splash on camera crews and directed videos to make his lyrics stand up as something of beauty. A simple, pretty lyric video would have worked fine and the contemporary twist made it look amature and certainly didn’t add anything to the track. It made me think back to the ‘Reimagined’ Joy Division videos that were made last year. Needless to say, I was definitely not a fan.
Putting the video to one side, ‘Leave Virginia Alone’ is a reputable song from Petty’s discography and one that will go down in history when you look at his delectably gorgeous collection of projects over the years. If you’ve enjoyed him in the past and are wondering if his unreleases are worth a listen, I’d say yes they are. His exceptionally cool rockstar flair and his phenomenal skill to put pen to paper and create gold is what makes his name so rightly acknowledged and what will remain to do so for decades to come...
Review written by Holly Turner.