Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’s new music video for the song “Gainesville” comes off their newest album An American Treasure, a posthumous dedication to Petty that racks in a whopping 63 unreleased tracks by the band. Exactly one year after his death, the song finds release 20 years after it was deemed too “peppy” to place onto 1999’s somber and gritty Echo. Nonetheless, the song and video’s amiable and sentimental energies capture the emotions we have for the legendary rock ‘n’ roller as he reflects on the hometown that shaped him.
The video takes a compelling twist on this wistful turn down memory lane; it showcases not only the influence of Petty’s hometown Gainesville, Fla. on him, but also his influence on his hometown. It takes in captivating shots of Gainesville, along with murals scattered across the city dedicated to the singer. This is sandwiched between clips of Petty and the band throughout the years. The two forces work in tandem with one another as they stream by in a low contrast, bright filtered scheme. Featuring old and new footage alike, it all seems archival and scratchy, like a flick out of the ’70s, to give a timeless appeal to its content. This sense of unity is further conveyed as the lyrics haphazardly line up with what’s on the screen, Petty singing “homegrown in the headphone” as an old-school pair of headphones holding up a leaf of cannabis pop up onto the screen.
The video is classic Tom Petty — thin and bluesy vocals, long and blond, big teeth — and classic Florida — gators, Gators, moss, Spanish moss trees, oranges. It catches both at their most organic and laidback, the shots askew, shaking ever so slightly like a home video. It strives to capture the songsmith as more of a person, a simple man, rather than a rock icon. It almost asks us to perceive him the way we would the city: sunny, calm and playful.
In a way, the video mimics the mellow and simple tempo of the song. It commemorates Gainesville and its natives in an essence, capturing them in moments that convey positive, innocuous emotions via the lyrics (“Gainesville was a big town”). This successfully primes viewers to let “good times roll and then move on,” to consider the endearing and humble beginnings of a dynamic man rather than mourn his end.