Relive Tom Petty's best Super Bowl performance of all time

Relive Tom Petty's best Super Bowl performance of all time

In 2008, at Super Bowl XLII, The New England Patriots went up against the New York Giants, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers performed at the halftime show. It was a different era, looking back, before the omnipresence of social media, looking ahead to the year Barack Obama would be elected President, for better or for worse.

And here was Tom Petty on that night, with a legendary performance, one of the finest and most massive of his entire career, a halftime show that may never be surpassed:

Tom Petty once said that seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show is what made him certain that he could pick up a guitar and do the same thing. Reflecting back on that childhood moment in 2006, Petty said:

"The minute I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show — and it's true of thousands of guys — there was the way out. There was the way to do it. You get your friends and you're a self-contained unit. And you make the music. And it looked like so much fun. It was something I identified with. I had never been hugely into sports. ... I had been a big fan of Elvis. But I really saw in the Beatles that here's something I could do. I knew I could do it. It wasn't long before there were groups springing up in garages all over the place."

It's very inspiring to imagine The Beatles' passing some invisible torch onto Tom Petty, one legend to another. Petty also apparently met Elvis Presley at age 10, and Presley of course appears in the lyrics to "Free Fallin'".

Here are the full lyrics, for you Tom Petty fanatics out there, and rightfully so:

"She's a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It's a long day livin' in Reseda
There's a freeway runnin' through the yard
And I'm a bad boy, 'cause I don't even miss her
I'm a bad boy for breakin' her heart

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

All the vampires walkin' through the valley
Move west down Ventura Blvd.
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
All the good girls are home with broken hearts

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

Free fallin', now I'm free fallin'
Now I'm,
Free fallin', now I'm free fallin'

I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I'm gonna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for awhile

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

Yeah I'm free, free fallin'
Oh! Free fallin'
Now I'm free
Oh!
Free fallin'"

So many halftime shows use gimmicks and tricks to garner an audience, using choreography and a series of different singers and dancers to keep attention. But Tom Petty did none of that. He just played one of his best songs, and did what he had to do.

Rest in peace, Tom.