October 2, 2018: One year later.
I originally wrote and posted this piece about Tom Petty a year ago when I learned the tragic news of his untimely death. In the last year, I’ve made a point to listen almost exclusively to his music.
If I were to categorize how much I’ve listened to his music, I’d estimate that he’s been on my radio 90% of the time and every other artist combined was played for a total of 10%. This may not seem important to you, but it’s been a testament to his legacy for me and other Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers super fans.
Through his music, I’ve noticed what a pure romantic he was. He seemed to maintain an upbeat attitude despite setbacks in love. Some lesser played songs like “I Forgive It All” (from Tom Petty’s side project Mudcrutch) and “Don’t Fade On Me” (possibly about Bob Dylan) told the story of being let down, but coming to terms with difficult, depressing periods of time. These two songs play well together. These ballads have been on repeat for me as I’ve experienced some major changes in the past year.
I’ve also loved the songs “Rebels” and “Insider” because they talk about his own personal battle with making (big) mistakes and the consequences of choices. In “Rebels,” I love the line, “with one foot in the grave and one foot on the pedal, I was born a rebel.” It speaks to my sensibilities of leading my own life and also feeling boxed in by society.
As I’ve written about in recent posts, the last few months have been challenging. Fortunately Tom Petty’s music continues to play and soothe me. And, as I wrote last year, he feels like my dear friend. I still miss this person and continue to grieve his death.
Originally Published October 3, 2017
Tom Petty felt like my friend.
He seemed so positive and upbeat. His music was easily listenable and fun. I’ve been a fan since the early 1990s and his was one of the first concerts I attended as a teenager without my parents. In fact, the first time I saw his show was in Denver at Fidler’s Green in 1995. I recall going with my wonderful camp friend and it rained. We were soaked and happy at the end. That first show solidified my fandom and my love for live music.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers got me through many a breakup, celebration and even basic days. His concert videos always put a smile on my face and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the DVD, “Live at the Fillmore.” More times than I can count. When I’m not listening to talk radio, my go-to is Tom Petty. When I’m down, my first choice is Tom Petty. When I drive, run, walk or have background music, you know what I select. Friends often get tired of my choice, but I haven’t shaken this love affair for over two decades.
I loved his shows and have gone to at least eight, most recently in late September at the Hollywood Bowl. Fortunate to have seen him one last time, I never expected that show to be among his last. His songs were relatable and down-to-earth.
It was especially difficult to hear of his death on Monday after the shooting in Las Vegas. These lyrics are from the song “American Dream Plan B,” I like these lines, which are apropos for this time of sadness, confusion and polarity in America:
“I’m gonna make my way through this world someday
I don’t care what nobody say
American dream, political scheme
I’m gonna find out for myself someday
My success is anybody’s guess
But like a fool, I’m bettin’ on happiness”
And in the midst of an American crisis and anxiety in the air, I keep listening to Tom Petty’s music. “Something Good Coming,” in particular, is meaningful and special to me. It reminds me of difficulty we all face, yet there’s always hope just around the corner. It’s currently on a loop on my playlist.
“And I know that look that’s on your face
There’s somethin’ lucky about this place
There’s somethin’ good comin’
For you and me
Somethin’ good comin’
There has to be.”
The most important aspect of Tom Petty (for me) is his optimism in his songs. I appreciate how he’s realistic of pain or heartbreak, but still manages to look on the bright side and maintain a sense of hope. His many catchy songs have a connection to love — my favorite thing. I’ve stood behind his philosophy that there may be difficult times we face, but love and hope remain.
So, here’s a small token of my appreciation for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I don’t have more words, just deep feelings for him. I will miss this musical friend incredibly.
“You got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can’t hold out forever
Even walls fall down.”