Listen to this track by Floridian rock ‘n’ roll flame-keepers Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. It’s their top twenty Billboard hit “Refugee” as taken from their high watermark 1979 album Damn The Torpedos. The song was released as a single in January 1980, standing as one of their breakthrough songs into the top 40 from that time forward.
“Refugee” is an angry tune, sung angrily by Petty. And in 1979, the swagger put back in rock ‘n’ roll in this fashion was a very good thing. Yet, at the same time, there is a pretty timeless quality to this song too, reminding us that the pissed-off, frustrated lover in a relationship marked by baggage that won’t be put down is as much a part of pop music as it’s ever been.
It doesn’t matter whether its sung in 1979 or in 2012. Because when at its best, the power of pop music is that it runs neck and neck with shared human experience.
But, at the time, only just before this song scored such career-cementing success as a single for Petty, the artist really was in a relationship he wasn’t happy with and was having a hard time getting out of. And it had very little to do with love. Read more