The Soundtrack of Our Lives: An Ode to Tom Petty
On October 2, 2017, we lost a legend. Tom Petty passed away at the age of 66. And it's taken me a little while to process how much that loss has affected me. Sure, it might sound silly to talk about mourning a man I have never met. But the way his music spoke to me and channeled my every mood - it was nothing short of magical.
I think what appealed to me most about Tom Petty was his air of "I don't give a fuck"ness. He just seemed like the kind of guy who made the music he wanted to make - for himself and for his fans and he didn't really care if it was "popular". There wasn't any controversy or gimmicks - he just got on stage and sang and let his music speak for itself.
He sang a lot about rebels and outcasts in his songs and that really appealed to me because I always felt like I didn't fit in anywhere. I wanted to be as badass as he was. I wanted to enjoy something as much as he enjoyed music.
My favorite Tom Petty song is You Don't Know How It Feels. This was my teenage anthem. Every time I hear the opening sounds of the harmonica, I get transported back to my dorky, younger self, sitting in my room, feeling misunderstood and mad at the world.
My second favorite Tom Petty song is I Should Have Known It. This song rocks. Whenever you're pissed off at someone, this song will get you through it. I crank it up and sing (or yell) it at the top of my lungs. Very cathartic.
He's had so many other incredible, iconic songs. Mary Jane's Last Dance, Free Fallin', American Girl, Won't Back Down, It's Good to Be King, Don't Do Me Like That... I could keep listing them for days.
I'm getting sad again as I type this. There will never be another Tom Petty. But his gift to us is that his music will always live on. He gave an interview to Esquire about 10 years ago, and he said: "As you're coming up, you're recognized song for song or album for album. What's changed these days is that the man who approaches me on the street is more or less thanking me for a body of work – the soundtrack to his life, as a lot of them say. And that's a wonderful feeling. It's all an artist can ask."
Thank you, Tom Petty. For all of it. Rock on.