Tom Petty describes his latest album, "Hypnotic Eye," as political, in his recent interview with Billboard Magazine. It is not the albums political content that is drawing so much attention. There is a bonus cut on the vinyl release of the album which Petty himself admits doesn’t really fit with the rest of the recordings. It is his reaction to the Catholic sex abuse scandal.
Petty wants it to be clear he has no problems with Catholics. He says he is fine with whatever religion a person chooses. In the song "Playing Dumb" the Catholic Church's response to the victims of sex abuse over the last several decades is addressed.
“Playing Dumb" is possibly the first song specifically written about the Catholic Church's abuse scandal. Other artists have publicly condemned the Church and its response to abuse allegations. Singer Sinéad O'Connor caused quite a controversy when she ripped us a picture Pope John Paul II during her performance on Saturday Night Live to protest sex abuse in the church over ten years ago.
Petty is angry at how the abuse victims were treated. "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 said.
On the rest of the album "Hypnotic Eye", Petty takes aim at the unchecked greed of the One Percent. He described the songs as not about being on the left or the right, but more a condemnation of the corruption of power. Saying, "Very few people know how to handle power and once they just become completely immoral, they're dangerous people. That attitude is what, to me, wipes out the middle class."
Petty, a self-confessed “cranky hippie”, defines himself as finally maturing and moving beyond the party stage of his life. “You want to get through the party period, and live, and wise up, without anything tragic happening to you…If you're a rock 'n' roller, that might last till you're 58, because there's nobody encouraging you to grow up or anything,” he said.