Rounding out our music-centered day, a few soundbites from Peter Bogdanovich’s excellent documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Runnin’ Down a Dream. Having never been much of a Petty fan (outside of The Wilburys, of course), I was floored by how good the film is; it’s as well-crafted as any of Petty’s best songs, but also filled with real drama and remarkable thoughtfulness and candor. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from producer Rick Rubin and one from Petty himself about the ineffable dynamics of inspiration (ht NM):

Rubin: “[Tom Petty is], of anyone I’ve worked with, the most a craftsman. He can write a song and then know how to take that song and make it into the best record that it could be. But he’s also got the inspiration where the songs come through him. I’ve sat down with him where he’ll play a song that’s written in five minutes, complicated story, and I’ll ask him afterwards, ‘what’s that about?’ or, ‘what’s the inspiration?,’ and he’ll say he has no idea; he doesn’t know what it’s about at all. He’ll just kinda… it just comes through him. So he can channel material in a pretty strong way, and I’ve seen him do it.”

Petty: “It’s so hard to understand. I don’t really understand it, but I do know that it seems that the best ones often just appear, like you’re sitting there with your guitar, or the piano, and bang, there it is. It just falls out of the sky. I hesitate to even try to understand it, for fear that it might make it go away.  It’s a spiritual thing.”

Rubin: “It doesn’t seem like if you were to force it, it would happen. It just has to be the right time.  He’s just playing around on the guitar and all of a sudden the song starts, and it doesn’t stop.  and it just keeps going for the whole thing.”