Video: Dierks Bentley “American Girl”

Photo Courtesy: Big Machine Records

Well, here’s an interesting new music video for the collective opinion of our AUK readership.  When I saw the headline as it read, “Dierks Bentley Borrows Tom Petty’s Rickenbacker Guitar for ‘American Girl’ Video,” I had to wonder.  Indeed, a curious thing (keep in mind it debuted on CMT).  This is as country as a rock n’ roll song can possibly get, perhaps.  But anyway (sorry John Popper), here it is for you in all its country splendour as an official music video release, a part of the Big Machine Records’ very highly publicised tribute album, ‘Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty’.  See the album review by AUK colleague Keith Hargreaves here.

Petty wrote the song.  1976.  Now deeply engraved in a classic rock lexicon.  Much has been written about his original ‘American Girl’, but I am reminded of the heavy influence of Roger McGuinn and The Byrds.  In fact, an old story was told that allegedly McGuinn heard ‘American Girl’ on the radio upon it’s original release on Petty’s debut album, and thought it was actually him!  Yes, Petty and lead guitarist/co-captain Mike Campbell knew that sound well, and employed it in very exciting ways throughout their career.  But, what a song Petty wrote!  And now, watching this Dierks Bentley music video, there’s almost a surreal, religious quality to the physical space and the light, as Bentley and his very capable band channel Petty and his words – the master is somehow in the room (ya, and his Rickenbacker 12-string too) as the late afternoon sunlight shines in; reflecting off amps, guitars, microphones, everything – the songwriter universe opens up and let’s us all in.  That conceptual visual subtlety spoke to me, even if the interpretation did not.  Wes Edwards directed the video, and I really dig what he did here.  It’s not about this band, nor Bentley, etc. – it’s all about the song.

Bentley said that he always loves it when a great cover of a song inspires him to revisit the original artist’s catalogue of music and that he hopes his version of ‘American Girl’ inspires fans to reconnect with the legend.  Amen to that, Mr. Bentley – and well done.

“Petty’s songs stand on their own,” Bentley said. “His lyrics and delivery were a big part of what made his music so impactful.”  We could not agree more.

Sidenote:  Sadly, ‘American Girl’ was the last song performed in concert by Tom Petty and his beloved Heartbreakers.  It was an encore at the Hollywood Bowl, part of their 40th anniversary tour.  Tragically, Petty would die a week later.  He has been sorely missed ever since.

About Mike Robbie 8 Articles
From California, with UK family roots. An aspiring songwriter, and part-time musician, who also enjoys freelance writing and spends far too much time in hotels. A member of the Americana Music Association (USA) as well as Nashville Songwriters Association. Currently enjoying the latest releases by Son Volt/Jay Farrar and Jack Broadbent ...
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keith hargreaves

Sadly Adam I have not reviewed the album ( I probably wouldn’t be kind…) the link is to the news story and track listing

Alison Jennings

Dierks Bentley did a fine album called “Up on the Ridge”, which showcases his guitar picking and soulful lyrics. Too bad most of the rest of his oeuvre is so “normal”. Check it out: