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Tom Petty Slams Catholic Church on New Album

Tom Petty
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Throughout his career, Tom Petty has largely steered clear of taking on controversial topics in his lyrics. That will change, however, with a pair of songs on his upcoming album, ‘Hypnotic Eye,’ where he goes after both the nation’s wealthiest one percent and, perhaps more surprisingly, the Catholic Church.

Petty rails against the latter in a song called ‘Playing Dumb,’ which appears as a bonus track on the vinyl version of ‘Hypnotic Eye.’ As he told Billboard, his issue isn’t with rank-and-file Catholics, but rather with the long-running child sex abuse scandal — and the ensuing attempts to sweep it under the rug — that has rocked the church. “I’m fine with whatever religion you want to have,” he said, although he adds, “If I was in a club, and I found out that there had been generations of people abusing children, and then that club was covering that up, I would quit the club. And I wouldn’t give them any more money.”

He also takes issue with what he considers to be a greedy, win-at-all-costs approach favored by the wealthy. “Very few people know how to handle power and once they just become completely immoral, they’re dangerous people,” he continued. “That attitude is what, to me, wipes out the middle class.”

Although he doesn’t say which songs on ‘Hypnotic Eye’ deal with this subject, ‘American Dream Plan B,’ which has already been released, finds Petty in the character of a guy who’s still fighting for his chance, with lyrics like “American Dream / Political scheme / I’m gonna find out for myself someday.” Based on their titles, several other tracks — ‘Power Drunk,’ ‘Burnt Out Town,’ and ‘Shadow Town’ — could also possibly work off of this theme.

‘Hypnotic Eye’ will be released July 29. He and the Heartbreakers will begin a two-month tour of North America on Aug. 3.

Next: Top 10 Tom Petty Rebel Songs

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