During Tom Petty's final interview with the Los Angeles Times, as the triumphant 40th anniversary tour with THE HEARTBREAKERS was coming to an end, he announced that his next big focus would be to finally revisit his 1994 masterpiece "Wildflowers", co-produced with Rick Rubin and Mike Campbell.
"Wildflowers" in many ways changed Tom's creative life — as a recording artist, collaborator and band leader — while a profound, personal crisis transformed the stories and emotional thrust in his songs. Tom ultimately wrote more songs than he could release at the time. In fact, Tom, Rubin and Campbell completed the album as a double CD with 25 songs, nearly two hours of music, but his label advised restraint. Released on November 1, 1994, "Wildflowers" — a single CD with 15 songs, still more than an hour in length — was Tom's most acutely confessional album to date.
The resurrection of "Wildflowers" has been a long time coming. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Tom detailed his plans for the reissue, telling the magazine: "I broke through to something else. My personal life came crashing down, and it derailed me for a while. But I was at the top of my game during that record." Then again in 2016 on SiriusXM's Tom Petty Radio, he discussed his desire for a "Wildflowers" tour to coincide with a reissue. Tom had always intended to release the second half of the album — a collection he named "All The Rest", featuring ten songs from the "Wildflowers" recording sessions that were left off the original version and five unreleased tracks (different versions of four other songs would appear on the soundtrack to the 1996 film "She's The One").
"Wildflowers & All The Rest", the long-awaited "Wildflowers" reissue and comprehensive collection, will be released on October 16 via Warner Records. Tom's vision of the project is becoming a reality due to the commitment of his loving family, bandmates and collaborators who helped unearth many previously unheard gems. The compilation was curated by Tom's daughters, Adria and Annakim Petty, and his wife Dana Petty, who call it "many, many hours of pure sonic joy," as well as HEARTBREAKERS' Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, and was produced by Tom's longtime engineer and co-producer Ryan Ulyate. Together they stewarded the warmth Tom created through his music and relationship to his fans.
Today, "Wildflowers (Home Recording)", a solo demo version of the classic title track, is premiering alongside a video featuring never-before-seen footage of Tom at his home, shot by Martyn Atkins during the recording of "Wildflowers". The video was co-directed by Alan Bibby and Jonny Kofoed and produced by Assembly. The significance of the song was revealed in David Fricke's essay written for the liner notes of the collection: "It would be some time before he understood the complexity of 'Wildflowers'. It was, he realized, 'me singing about me.'" This morning, Mike Campbell, Adria Petty and Ryan Ulyate spoke with Fricke about the new collection and premiered the home recording on SiriusXM's Tom Petty Radio (channel 31).
"Wildflowers (Home Recording)" is available now with pre-order of the Deluxe Edition, in addition to the recently released songs "There Goes Angela (Dream Away) (Home Recording)" and "You Don't Know How It Feels (Home Recording)".
"Wildflowers & All The Rest" will be released in multiple formats. "Wildflowers & All The Rest - Deluxe Edition" features 15 recordings made by Tom in his home studio as he was writing the album. These solo demos provide an intimate look at Tom's songwriting process, where he plays all the instruments and revises lyrics as he works. The "Deluxe Edition" is rounded-off with 14 live performances of songs from "Wildflowers", recorded on various tours from 1995 to 2017. "Wildflowers & All The Rest - Super Deluxe" is a direct-to-consumer limited-edition set featuring "Finding Wildflowers" — 16 studio recordings of alternate takes of "Wildflowers" songs as Tom, band members and Rubin honed-in on the final album.
The collection features incredibly special packaging across the various formats. The "Super Deluxe Edition" is the most complete; it includes an introduction penned by Rick Rubin, the aforementioned essay written by David Fricke — "Somewhere You Feel Free: Tom Petty's Road To Wildflowers", lyrics to all the songs on "Wildflowers & All The Rest", as well as an in-depth track-by-track by Jaan Uhelszki with contributions from Rubin, Ulyate, "Wildflowers" engineer Jim Scott, HEARTBREAKERS live mixing engineer Robert Scovill, and HEARTBREAKERS' Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone.
Adria Petty also oversaw the creative direction for the "Wildflowers" project, with original packaging illustrations by Blaze Ben Brooks, original cover beadwork by Maria Sarno, as well as "Wildflowers"-era photography by Mark Seliger, Robert Sebree and Martyn Atkins.
Tom Petty released 16 studio albums and over 180 songs over the course of his 40-year career. "Wildflowers" was the first album of a long-term renaissance. It was Petty's fastest-selling album and was certified triple platinum only nine months after its release. The album was always deeply significant to him. As proof, five of the 18 songs performed at his final live concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles came from the album. "Wildflowers" — his solo masterpiece, a personal triumph and the album Petty needed to make at that moment, at any cost — is finally here as he intended it and beyond.