In the wake of Tom Petty’s untimely death on Monday (Oct. 2) at age 66, many artists have paid their respects to the late rock icon. Taylor Swift, a longtime Petty fan, told Rolling Stone exactly what he meant to her.
“To me, Tom Petty represented a kind of songwriting I idolized: complex simplicity,” Swift said. “It said so much in the lyrics, the concepts, the stories, the message, the nuances… but always brought you back to a hook that got stuck in everyone’s head.”
Swift continued to suggest that Petty was part of the reason she first picked up a guitar and learned to play. “He motivated thousands of guitarists to learn to play just because they wanted to be able to play ‘Free Fallin.’ Count me as one of them,” the singer said.
During Swift’s 2009 Fearless tour, she covered and recorded Petty’s “American Girl.” Swift later made the transition to the complex simplicity she loved Petty for during the Red era, which marked her move from country to pop. Hear the “American Girl” cover below.