Tom Petty was the guy all of us young, guitar wanna-me musicians admired. A rebel. A writer. A guy who did it his way, and his way was magical and irresistible. Genuine. Straight. Unfiltered.
Has there ever been a bad Tom Petty song? He never mailed it in. And that goes not only for the songs he wrote, but anybody else’s music that he covered. My favorite channel on Sirius XM is the Tom Petty channel. Not just because of his superlative songwriting and musicianship, but because of the heart that he put into everything he did. His band thrived on Petty’s mojo, and you could tell that none of them would accept mediocrity, ever. The Heartbreakers could have sought individual success, but who wouldn’t kill to be a part of the Tom Petty legacy?
As a musician, I always appreciated the simple elegance of Petty’s music. No wasted notes, no extraneous fluff. Just pure, clean, soul. Simple, but unique. His Dylan-esque vocal is never phony or over-baked. It just is what it is. Real. And the stories in his songs do Dylan proud, if not one better.
My daughter, Jenny, chooses our set lists. Occasionally at a gig she will, wrinkling her nose, allow me to play “Here Comes My Girl”. She doesn’t get it, because she IS a girl. But it’s all I can do to finish the song, struggling to sing through a huge lump in my throat. Because the lyrics are real to me. I’m singing about MY girl, and it’s real. You guys who love your woman, regardless, you know what I mean. (Watch her walk.) Petty gets it, and tells it like it is.
So it’s sad to let Tom Petty go. Hopefully he hears from heaven whenever a bar band covers one of his magnificent songs, feeling his message, heart and soul. Keep rockin’, Petty.