Randall E. Auxier and Megan Volpert, Editors
Abstracts are sought for a volume in Open Court’s Philosophy of Popular Culture series on Tom Petty. Tom Petty’s body of work exists on a continuum between Folk and Rock, between New Wave and Americana, between Southern simplicity and West Coast chic. This is evidenced not only by the legacy left to his main backing band, the Heartbreakers, but also bookended by Mudcrutch and his collaborations with his elders, such as Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash.
The songs hook and they captivate, but they are often profound in their understatement, their stark minimalism. Petty’s insight into the human condition adumbrates a powerful philosophical anthropology with a metaphysics of tragedy, gravity, and levity. His ethics focuses on dilemmas of the outcast, downtrodden and heartbroken with a view to the fallen and the sinful as our redeemable antiheroes of the everyday. Some want out, some want back in, some won’t move. His political thinking is that of the artist, enlivened by Southern hostilities and Californian futilities, culminating in a deontology that puts duty to the fans first. His theory of knowledge is psychological and interpersonal, both deeply meditative and delightfully skeptical. The dialectic of love and hate, abuse and recovery, poverty and power, triumph and loss provide the genuine objects of knowledge. Above all, Petty’s songs are the confessions of a poetic mind interpreting a wounded soul.
Petty lived his life the way he wrote and the way he played. It was grit, drive, and just enough finesse, to make things nice, where they need to be nice. On stage, he put the schau in Anschauung. He stood up to corporate assholes in a number of precedent-setting legal maneuvers and album concepts, risking his career and fortune, but never backing down. He was the center of a musical community that endured over four decades. His ability to cultivate new generations of listeners while connecting himself backward to the heroes of his own youth have made him universally respected by the widest range of music fans.
This volume will explore Petty’s thoughts and the thoughts we have while we listen. Contributors are welcome to submit abstracts on any topic of philosophical interest that pertains to Tom Petty.
Suggest topics (other topics welcome):
Yer So Bad: Petty’s Classification of the Criminal Kind
Rebels: Regionalism and Birthright as Agencies of Dissent
Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll (Is Fine): On Authoritarianism and Permission
Listen to Her Heart: The Role of Intuition in Decision-making
Flirting with Time: Karma and Consequences
Running Man’s Bible: On the Boundaries of Intervention
She Went Down Swingin’: Petty’s View of Women
Break Down: Weakness of the Will and the Structure of Desire
Don’t Come Around Here: How to Break Someone’s Heart
Stop Dragging My Heart Around: Co-dependency and Recovery
Refugees: The Effects of Abuse and Tough Love
Something Big, Big Weekend: On Hedonism and Suicidal Urges
I Should Have Known It: Petty and Possibility
Southern Accents: Between the West and the South
You Got Lucky: Chance, Love and Logic
You Don’t Know How It Feels: Resentment and the Pathologies of Consciousness
Kings Road: An American Abroad
Spike: Demarcation of Difference and Strategies of Assimilation
Insiders: On Radical Empathy
Century City: On Legal and Corporate Intentionality
The Last DJ: Corruption as Progress
It’s Good to Be King: Petty and Power
American Dream Plan B: Cynicism as Political Protest
What Are You Doin’ in My Life: Stalkers, Friends, Fans
Mary Jane’s Revenge: Tom Petty and Death
Louisiana Rain: Travelogues and Transcendentalism in the Great Wide Open
Nightwatchman: The Effects of Securitization on Personalism
Eat Me: Petty’s Pioneering Music Videography
So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: Collaboration versus Mentorship
Jammin’ Me: Surrealist Challenges to Structuralism
Something Good Coming: The Relationship between Aesthetic Time and Space
Notification of acceptance by April 15. Polished first drafts due by June 15. Finished contributions should be 3,000 to 4,000 words, written in a style appropriate to an intelligent lay audience (no unexplained philosophical jargon, assumed knowledge of philosophical concepts, or extensive referencing).
“Qui tacet consentit.”