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Tom Petty film goes behind the making of ‘Wildflowers’ album

Singer-songwriter Tom Petty records the album 'Wildflowers' at Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, California, U.S., 1994. Picture taken in 1994.
Martyn Atkins/Handout via REUTERS

A new documentary gives Tom Petty fans an intimate look at how the late American singer-songwriter made his acclaimed 1994 album “Wildflowers”.

Released on the Grammy Award winner’s YouTube channel on Thursday, “Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free” features previously unseen footage of “Wildflowers” recording sessions from a collection of 16mm archive film found last year.

Known for his roots-infused rock music, Petty, who died in 2017 aged 66 from an accidental medication overdose, found fame with his band The Heartbreakers, as part of supergroup The Traveling Wilburys and as a solo artist.

“Wildflowers” was his second solo album, and in the film he describes being himself and not holding back in his songwriting.

“There was just so much more to getting to know him from this era than we could have imagined film-wise,” Adria Petty, Petty’s daughter and an executive producer on the film, told Reuters.

“This is a very personal album … I see a lot of his sort of autobiographical arc in it … you actually get ‘I’m breaking up with my childhood sweetheart’ all the way through (to) ‘I’m finding someone else to love that I’m really falling in love with’.”

As well as the archive footage, the documentary features interviews with producer Rick Rubin and members of the Heartbreakers, including guitarist Mike Campbell.

Most members of the band worked with Petty on “Wildflowers”.

“To me, it was another record, it just didn’t have all the five Heartbreakers on at once. Although a lot of them did make it onto the record here and there,” Campbell told Reuters.

“But to me it was just, what’s the song today, you know? Ok, that’s a good song, let’s record it with whoever is here and make it great as we can … It was Tom’s vision …. but it just felt like another project that Tom and I would do together.”

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