Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tom Petty

Irony: a FB user claims that it's Tom Petty's fault that his father was an alcoholic and drug addict; and that same FB user has a cover photo with the words "MY DESTINY IS MY OWN!" Yes, folks, that's irony. Unintentional irony.

30 years ago or so, Tom Petty described one of the fundamental ironies of life in this land: when you get rich and famous, all of a sudden you get lots of stuff for free, which you could easily buy now, and which you badly needed back when you couldn't afford it.

Petty was very intelligent, very perceptive, very sensitive to the plight of the poor and abused. A lot of that intelligence went into his lyrics. He also was very talented musically. This combination made for songs which touched people. Those songs made us feel as if we knew him personally. We didn't know him, but if felt as if we did. He wasn't that FB user's father, but it felt as if he was. So a lot of us feel today as if we've lost a good friend, or a father or brother or cousin.

So maybe cut us a little bit of slack for a change.

Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950, was inspired to be a musician by Elvis and the Beatles, dropped out of high school shortly before graduation to concentrate full-time on playing in a band, and BAM! just like that, 11 or 12 years later, suddenly he could afford to buy all the Nike shoes he wanted, and he didn't even have to anymore.

It's not just millions of us listeners who have been blown away by his single "Free Fallin'" -- Petty himself said he was amazed when the song came out of him. He said it was like a bolt of lightning which came from nowhere.

Of course, it came from the same place as all of the other great songs which Petty wrote or co-wrote. Still, it just goes to show that if you work very hard for decades at something you care about, you might have moments where what you produce is so good that it even surprises you.

Not to step on yr shoes if yr favorite Tom Petty recording is something other than "Free Fallin'". There are many, many great Tom Petty recordings. I'm going to stop now. RIP, Mr Petty. And thanks.

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