“Wouldn’t it be great, if just for one moment… everything was alright?”
Requiescat in Pace ~ Tom Petty (1950 – 2017)
As the clock wound past midnight on Monday evening, Tony Dimitriades confirmed what many feared. Rock legend and icon Tom Petty died at approximately 8:40 p.m. (PT) after suffering cardiac arrest.
Dimitriades issued the following statement: “On behalf of the Tom Petty family we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken tobut could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
To me, Tom Petty was a guy that had the all-too-rare ability to bridge generations through his music.
He dropped out of school at the age of 17 to pursue a career in music. From the beginning in Gainesville, Florida with Petty, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench forming Mudcrutch in the early seventies to the worldwide appeal of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, he knew just how to speak to me and many others around the world.
He sold more than 80 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The list of his songs that moved me spans decades, but there are three songs in particular that touched me at my core. The first was Don’t Come Around Here No More, a song he wrote with David A. Stewart, and released in February 1985 as a single, before being released the following month on “Southern Accents.”
As the Mad Hatter, he captured where my imagination and mind was in the mid-eighties. While some may say it was certain substances that were injested at the time that made the music totally envelop me, I tend to believe that I was tuned-in to a musician that had the rare ability to spread love unpretentiously throughout everything he did.
The second time he stirred passionate emotion within me was after the Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King verdict. The song, Peace In L.A., was a non-album single in 1992.
He wrote what he saw, and conveyed the pain he felt in a way that was visceral. He proved the power of music to move people in ways that they may not have thought possible.
The third song to move me was his cover of Van Morrison’s Mystic Eyes, especially the live version in “Live From Gatorville” (released in January 2008). Lyrically, it speaks to me on many levels.
On the surface, it’s a reminder of a loved one. But in the aforementioned version, he utters the line quoted at the beginning of this article. With that simple phrase, he spans generations and plants his finger squarely on the social consciousness of a country that seems to have lost its way.
Having met him personally a quarter of a century earlier, I can say with certainty that he was humble and genuine. To me, he was the older brother I never had, such was the effect he had on me.
Yes, I will miss him and his unique ability to speak to so many with such wonderful lyrics.
For those of you that are younger and may not know his back catalog, I would suggest starting at the beginning an working your way forward chronologically. It will be well worth your time, and I have a hunch you’ll discover that his music back then moves you as much as his more current offerings.
I’ve given up (stop) you tangle my emtions
~ Tom Petty