Man, what a year 2017 is turning out to be. First Butch Trucks died. Then Gregg Allman died. Then Walter Becker died. And, now, Tom Petty has gone on to his great reward. My musical icons are slowly fading away.
Other people will eulogize him far better than I could (ETA: here’s another great look at Petty’s influence) but suffice it to say that his music has been a part of my life since before I can remember: his first album with the Heartbreakers came out when I was two years old. And it’s hard to think of a better American songwriter over the last 40 years. His songs told stories but they were stories that just about anyone could understand or relate to. He seemed like he was just a normal dude singing about regular things… love and life and loss and regret.1 And hope.
Plus, he was one-fifth of the greatest musical supergroup to ever grace planet Earth.
It sucks to think that we won’t get any more music from him.
If you were to ask me what my favorite Tom Petty song is, I think the answer would depend on my mood. For a while last summer, it was American Girl.2 At various times in the past, it’s been Free Fallin’, or You Wreck Me or Don’t Do Me Like That. Even Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, which is technically a Stevie Nicks song, is pretty high on the list.3
But, gun to my head, I think the video below is probably my all-time favorite Tom Petty song.
Fare thee well, Thomas Earl Petty. Heaven’s house band just got a little bit better.
1 – Well as normal as a long-haired, top hat-wearing rock and roll star can be, I suppose.
2 – Tying it back to the point about Petty being a great songwriter, there’s just something brilliant in the simplicity of “After all it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to.”
3 – Petty and Mike Campbell originally wrote it for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers but they ultimately gave it to Nicks and it appears on her first solo album… though obviously as a duet with Petty.