Tom Petty used the Confederate flag as a backdrop on his 1985 Southern Accents tour, but the musician wrote an essay for Rolling Stone Tuesday expressing his regret over that decision: “I just honestly didn’t give it much thought,” he said, “though I should have.”

Petty goes on to explain that the album he was touring at the time, Southern Accents, started out “as a concept record about the South” and that one of the songs, “Rebels,” was told from the perspective of someone “who talks about the traditions that have been handed down from family to family for so long that he almost feels guilty about the war.”

“He still blames the North for the discomfort of his life, so my thought was the best way to illustrate this character was to use a Confederate flag,” he said. “I then just let it get out of control as a marketing device for the record. It was dumb and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Read the entire essay over at Rolling Stone.

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