One Track Mind: Tom Petty, “American Dream Plan B” from Hypnotic Eye (2014)

Tom Petty has said he wanted to return to the straight-ahead rock of the Heartbreakers’ earliest albums, and “American Dream Plan B” — the first sounds we’ve heard from the upcoming Hypnotic Eye — gives shape to that goal.

Quite frankly, it’s a foundation-cracking bruiser of a song, powered along by a bloody-knuckled riff, a nasty cadence and this processed vocal that takes roundhouse swings at life, at love and — most particularly — at everything else that makes getting to Friday night so difficult most work weeks.

“American Dream Plan B,” which premiered today at Rolling Stone, continues on in this way. Eventually, as the debts mount, mom turns sad and Daddy’s just pissed. Even the little things start to fail us: Our protagonist, for instance, can’t dance for shit. His existence is a jumble of uncertainty.

And yet, life can’t keep its boot on his neck. Somewhere deep inside, the flicker of optimism still burns. “Like a fool,” Petty barks, “I’m betting on happiness.” And he’s doing it with the amp turned up to 11.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at