This Saturday marks four years since Tom Petty’s death. In celebration of this great songwriter’s life, I wanted to share “Square One” this week — a song that feels like it matters more these days, and which makes you realize what a great artist we lost.
The second track on Petty’s third and final solo album, Highway Companion, which hit stores in 2006, the song was originally released in 2005 as part of the soundtrack for the film Elizabethtown (starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst). It was nominated for a Grammy in the category “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.” It lost to a song from the film Polar Express — that animated film starring Tom Hanks’ creepy CGI avatar.
“Square One” has lyrics that confirm Petty’s gifts as a singer-songwriter.
I recently reviewed Mary Gauthier’s excellent book “Saved by a Song,” and afterwards exchanged some emails with her over a related topic in the book. On a whim, I asked her if she’d ever heard this song, and sent a link to it. It was new to her, and she responded simply, “Beautiful!”
The line, “Always had more dogs than bones,” is a favorite. The lyrics reward careful listening.
Getting a fresh start, ending a journey by returning to where you started with a clean slate — in trying times, this can be the goal, to get back to basics, back to square one.
If you feel so inclined after listening to this song, please tip your literal or figurative tophat to Tom Petty on October 2nd in gratitude for what he left for us.