When we were younger, my friend Amy and I used to run around doing nothing but having the best time ever. And when I reminisce about that time, of course there is a soundtrack. All good stories and memories have a soundtrack. Ours would be heavy on John Mellencamp, The Indigo Girls, and Tom Petty, among others. And musical tastes evolve and change, but those old soundtrack songs stay with you.
A couple of years ago, Tom Petty passed away. It hit me hard, harder than I thought it would. His music has always been there, in the background of my life, I just didn’t really realize how much until he left this earth. So it was just the anniversary of his passing, and then the other day was his birthday, he would have turned 70. I have the SiriusXM in my car, I don’t listen to regular radio when I drive. I have the Tom Petty channel as a preset, and I listen to it often. I love it, it is right next to the Elvis and Beatles channels on my presets. They play a ton of his music, of course, but they also play music he loved and that influenced him, as well as his “Buried Treasure” show that he did while he was still with us. If you are a fan, you would love it.
Anyway, those birthdays and anniversaries brought along this year a release of “Wildflowers and All the Rest” which is a collection of songs from Wildflowers, and some re-engineered songs, and things he wanted to put on it, but they kind of didn’t fit. I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m gonna! It looks fantastic, the reviews are excellent. The Tom Petty channel has played quite a bit of it, and it will be mine, soon. Also, they are featuring a birthday tribute show this weekend, of various artists doing covers of his music. It really gives you a sense of how big he was to other musicians, not just his fans. I have it on in the background while I am typing this.
A band that my friend Crazy Todd turned me onto, the Black Moods, will tell you how much Petty influenced them. I follow them on Facebook, and the other day they asked people what their favorite Tom Petty song was. That was tough, and I listed 5, but I could have gone on and on, and it really made me realize even more how much I love his music. It’s hard to take a favorite artist and knock it down to your 5 favorite songs. I listed: Learning to Fly, Walls, Wildflowers, Refugee, and American Girl. That doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Where I am kind of going with all of this, besides blatant and obvious worship of Tom Petty, is the effect music can have on you. This stretch of time, this pandemic, is really wearing on people. I think the election piled onto that has really kicked the collective crap out of a lot of people, including me. I have felt like my soul has been beat up pretty bad, sucked out and stepped on. It’s been tough to eat right (I haven’t been!) I have been working out, but some days it’s just going through the motions. Work has been good, but it’s not lighting my fire at the moment as things have slowed with the onset of fall. What’s out there to lift me up? Those old songs, the ones that take me back to those days riding around with Amy singing our hearts out to TP and the HB, and other groups we know all the words to their songs. Not that living in the past is a solid plan, but these memories are making me smile and feel something better than worrying about the ‘Rona and money and elections.
Think about your “soundtrack.” What music comes to mind when you think about better days? Who wrote the songs that make your heart smile? So many people know of my lifelong love of Rick Springfield, and his music always makes me feel good, but it’s really Tom Petty who sang my words, he wrote some songs that make me feel like he was paying attention to me. I was lucky enough to see him at Summerfest a few times back in the 90s. Great shows. Better memories. I didn’t know back then what he would mean to me now. He hadn’t even written some of his really deeper songs yet. It was coming, and the path it takes is so beautiful, and had he not left when he did, it would have continued in a direction that would have lifted me even higher, I just know it. Thanks for all of it, Tom Petty, thanks for being a part of my soundtrack.