Southern Accents

Album: Southern Accents (1985)

Songfacts®:

  • Petty: "That may be my favorite among my songs - just in terms of a piece of pure writing. I remember writing it very vividly. It was in the middle of the night and I was playing it on the piano at home in Encino. I was just singing into my cassette recorder and suddenly these words came out. I was at the point in my career where I was very much trying to find some new ground. I thought I had used up what I had started with and I wanted a new direction. We had lived in California for about 10 years at that point and I started thinking about growing up in northern Florida, which is a lot different from Miami Beach. It's close to Georgia and I came from a real Southern family, and I wanted to address that world. Once I came up with this song, I decided to write an entire album about the theme."
  • Charles Kelley covered this for his debut solo album, The Driver, which was produced by Paul Worley. The Lady Antebellum member first performed the song with Trisha Yearwood back in 2013 at the Petty Fest in Nashville. "I'd always loved that song, and I always thought it would make a good country song, but I never thought about it necessarily as something Lady Antebellum would do," Kelley told Rolling Stone Country.

    Kelley is joined by Stevie Nicks on his version. "It's really funny, when we first started the record, one of the things Paul and I talked about was trying not to maybe have a female harmony singer," he said. "[But Nicks] is the biggest Tom Petty fan. Paul kind of goes through the channels, and somehow it comes back that she wants to sing on it, so I was like, 'Of course. It's Stevie Nicks. Yes. She's going to sing on it.' So I already broke my rule of no females on the record."

    Kelley told Radio.com that every time he hears the song, it reminds him of how his father grew up. "He was one of those guys that really did walk five miles to school, and had to work on the farm after school, and did things like that," he said. "So I always kind of picture him in my mind when I'm singing that song."
  • Petty mentions his mother, Katherine, in this song. She died in 1980; Petty skipped the funeral because his presence in Gainsville would have raised a commotion, and he didn't want it to turn into a scene. Also, he hates funerals. "I made my own peace with my mother," he said.

Comments: 7

  • Jody from Shenandoah Valley VaTom's songwriting was truly incredible. To anybody from the south this song just goes so deep and hits home as much as a song can.
  • Aaron from Knoxville, TennesseeBeing from Tennessee, this song obviously resonates with me. The South is so unique, and it is a place full of so many different folks. Tom’s writing was among some of the best in the business, because along with guys like Bob Seger, he would write songs for everyone that would touch parts of everyone’s life. This is the one for me and my dad both. Sure do miss Tom.
  • Cerph from Earth, FlOne of my favorites. Love the live album where he transitions into "Rebel". Gives my Southern bones a chill. Florida is a Southern State. Only the yankee influence over the past 30 years has watered it down. Sad.
  • Ron Gilmore from Snohomish, WaI have never heard a song writer write about home in a more profound way
  • Darrell from Thomasville, GaI bought the "33" Southern Accents album when I was stationed in Panama. The title track took me back home. A mention inside the jacket, if I remember right, said: "There is nothing as sad nor more glorious than generations changing hands." I don't know why it was included but that simple truth helped me a lot when I lost my beloved grandfather soon after I read that. My son was born three days later, so the comment was especially timely for me.
  • Charles from Glenside, PaPetty was right. Most of Florida, away from the coasts at least, is extremely rural, both in the northern and southern parts of the state. Definitely one of his most beautiful works.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI remember buying this album, and although I can no longer recall the all tracks, at the time I knew it by heart. Southern Rock as a whole was down and Petty came out with this great southern rock album during a time when Springsteen, Madona (sp), Jackson, Prince, and U2 were in another world. It really cemented the greatness of Petty. To switch Genres with such a powerful recording. "Honey don't walk out on me/to drunk to follow. You know you won't feel this/way tomorrow." Take a trip back and buy this album. It's a great one and you won't regret it.
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