I think we can all agree yesterday was rough for a variety of reasons, but in the interest of keeping things relatively light, I'm only going to address one: the death of Tom Petty. I know, real fucking light. Tom Petty is one of those rare artists appeals to so many different types of people. It seems like everyone has a story with him. I'm not a musician, so I can't say he inspired me musically, but his music has brought me closer to several important people in my life. This is my story with Tom Petty.
My mom is responsible for most of the music I was exposed to growing up (although as a kid, I never stopped shocking her with the music I knew on my own). So along with dancing around our classic '70s bright yellow Philadelphia kitchen to the likes of everything from The Beatles to The Dead to Green Day to The Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack, we also listened to a lot of Tom Petty. I don't remember what age I was when I first heard him, but I do remember what song of his I was first obsessed with, "Don't Do Me Like That". And like every song I heard as a child, I was determined to learn the lyrics. Because of its fast, upbeat melody, it soon became one of my favorite songs to sing along to, and still is to this day.
As I got a little older, she and my stepdad exposed me to the The Traveling Wilburys. If you don't know who they are, you need to. A supergroup comprised of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and, of course, Tom Petty, they only made two albums. Orbison died before the second one was recorded, but the first one is pure gold. "Last Night" is my personal favorite sung by Petty. Go listen to it right now, I'll wait.
Fast forward an unspecified number of years, and I met a girl my freshman year of high school during a fire drill. We became friends because, I kid you not, we'd been eyeing each other from a distance across the cafeteria for a few months, thought the other one looked cool, and finally introduced ourselves. And besides teen angst, one of the first things we bonded over, was, duh, Tom Petty. Kind of a weird thing for a couple of borderline goth kids to bond over, but whatever. So of course every time we hung out, we'd listen to him, and our official friendship song became "I Won't Back Down". So many teenage road trips with no destination were peppered with that song. The year he played the Super Bowl halftime, we were in separate rooms. He finally came on, and we ran to find each other immediately, literally crashing into each other, holding hands and dancing and jumping around, while our friends gave us sneering sideways glances. Spoiler alert: she's still one of my best friends to this day, and we were literally texting each other Tom Petty songs ALL DAY YESTERDAY. True love.
My college boyfriend also used to see Tom Petty every year with his dad, and would send me videos of the show, as if that would sort of kind of not really make up for the fact that I wasn't there. Every year he'd promise we'd see him the following tour. And every year we'd be broken up (and get back together) by the time the show came around. Dammit, I knew I should have stayed with him (just kidding, we're way better as friends). I never did get to see Tom Petty live. You always think you'll have one more chance.
Now I realize this isn't the most polished, entertaining blog post I will write, but I needed to write it. In a weird way, it feels like I lost a friend. He's been riding alongside me my entire life journey. At different points in my life, I felt connected to different songs of his. So go listen to Tom Petty, and laugh, cry, dance, get stoned, and love.