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This Album Changed My Life: Busby Marou On Tom Petty's 'Wildflowers'

21 July 2023 | 11:08 am | Mary Varvaris

To celebrate Busby Marou’s new album, we caught up with Tom Busby about an album that changed his life: Tom Petty’s Wildflowers.

Busby Marou

Busby Marou (Credit: Sean Gilligan)

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Today, Busby Marou unveil their new album, Blood Red. “Tom and I, acoustic guitars with vocal harmonies,” Jeremy Marou said about the duo’s latest “bread and butter” release.

Earlier this month, Tom Busby and Jeremy Marou showcased an exclusive performance of Blood Red at Queensland Music Trails’ Between The Tides event. They played the album in its entirety at Cape Hillsborough Beach, the first-ever musical act to perform at the location.

Busby Marou have found great success in Australia, including three Top 5 albums (2017’s Postcards From The Shell House debuted at #1 on the ARIA Charts), four APRA Awards and numerous APRA and ARIA nominations.

Busby Marou also stretched their ambitions on Blood Red, collaborating with Darius Rucker and Gretta Ray, Lindsay Rimes and Birds Of Tokyo’s Ian Kenny, finding new ways to stand out with the storytelling abilities of others and remain Australia’s favourite troubadours.

Busby said about Blood Red in a press release, “The main reason we’re still here is because, most of the time, we stuck to our songwriting method, which is just a couple of blokes with two guitars and melodies telling stories. We haven’t overthought it. This time, in particular, we were just confident with what came out.”

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To celebrate Busby Marou’s new album, we caught up with Tom Busby about an album that changed his life: Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. The second solo album from the Heartbreaker and the first of three produced by Rick Rubin, Petty’s 1994 release peaked at #38 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

In 2021, Wildflowers became the subject of the Tom Petty documentary, Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making of Wildflowers. The documentary film included archival footage from the studio, new interviews, and more; much of the footage was previously unseen before Petty’s passing. The film is available to watch on YouTube.

Here’s what Tom Busby had to say about Wildflowers, the album that changed his life.

“Tom Petty's album Wildflowers is my songwriting bible.

“It seriously changed the way I write songs and made me realise that keeping things simple is where the magic happens. You know, less is more, but damn, it's the hardest thing about songwriting.

“Before I discovered Wildflowers, I was all about overcomplicating my songs. I thought the more ideas, melodies, and lyrics I crammed in there, the better it would be. I was scared that if I kept it simple, my songs would sound incomplete or shallow. But this record showed me a whole new way of doing things.

“When I first started listening to that album, I was blown away by how much emotion and imagery he packed into those songs with such minimal elements. The arrangements were stripped down, the rhythm and the beat were consistent and not one bit overplayed and the lyrics were straightforward, but they hit you right in the gut. It was like a masterclass in saying more with less.  Initially, I struggled with embracing the idea that less is more. It takes guts to resist the urge to fill every space with extra instruments or pointless words. But once I started focusing on the essentials and giving my melodies and lyrics room to breathe, the songs started to have more impact.

Wildflowers taught me to appreciate the power of silence and subtle musical touches. It made me reevaluate every element in my songs and ask myself if it truly served the heart of the song. It showed me that simplicity is where the magic happens, and it keeps inspiring me to try to create music that speaks from the heart and connects with people. Most importantly, though, listening to this album from start to finish makes me feel good!  So, here's to Tom Petty and this timeless album that helped change my songwriting game.”

Busby Marou’s new album, Blood Red, is out now. You can listen below.