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Monday, October 09, 2017

Remembering Tom Petty

I can still remember the first time I ever heard a Tom Petty song...and it traumatized me at first!

I think the year was 1988 or was right around the time that my parents got a brand new television for the living room.  Not only that, but it was the first time that our household had cable television!

(Okay, granted, my parents could only afford the basic cable package which meant that we couldn't see any channels past Channel 37, but still...two dozen more choices to choose from!  Yay!)

Anyway, one of the channels that we were blessed with was MuchMusic (Canada's version of MTV), and at least back in 1988, the channel was airing music videos approximately twenty-one hours of the day.  So, back then, you were guaranteed to see your favourite artists and their contributions to the music video world at some point in the day.

And that's where I came across the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers video for "Don't Come Around Here No More".

Now, keep in mind, I was probably around seven when I first watched this video, and keep in mind that my television viewing didn't include a lot of violent shows.  So the scene in which Tom Petty was slicing Alice from Alice in Wonderland with a cutting knife was really disturbing and I think I grabbed the remote with enough force to probably snap it in half in order to switch the channel.

(Though, keep in mind that the part of the music video for Phil Collins' "Don't Lose My Number" where the guy activates a capsule of fake blood traumatized me enough to swear off MuchMusic for six months!  Yeah, I was a weird child.  No apologies.  No regrets.)

But once I got over the initial shock of the video and really listened to the song, I dug it.  I mean, I really dug it.

And it wasn't too long after I saw that video for the first time that Tom Petty released the album "Full Moon Fever".  

It was a massive success all over the world and gave us hits like "Free Fallin'"

And, "I Won't Back Down".

And, "Runnin' Down a Dream".

From that moment on, I became a fan of Tom Petty's music.  I sought out that album and became acquainted with many more of his older releases.  Songs such as "Refugee", "You Got Lucky", "American Girl", and "Even The Losers" all earned a spot in my music collection, and as time passed, I grew to respect the man even more.

I loved him when he was a part of the supergroup "The Traveling Wilburys" - a group which also included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.  His 90s hits were just as polished and fresh as his stuff from the 1970s and 1980s (though I must say that the music video for "Mary Jane's Last Dance" creeped me out even more than "Don't Come Around Here No More" - the song is kick-ass, but the video is major disturbing).  And as time passed, we all believed that Tom Petty would continue to rock our worlds with his classic rock tunes, his incredible work ethic, and his down-to-earth personality for decades to come.

Sadly, as we all well know, Tom Petty passed away on October 2, 2017 - just days before his 67th birthday.  The cause of death was cardiac arrest - and for a while, it was unknown as to whether or not he actually passed on.  With the Las Vegas tragedy still fresh on everybody's minds at the time, I suppose it was easy to have a misunderstanding over what was really going on.

But once the news was confirmed, I have to say it really bummed me out.  I'll never get the chance to see him in concert.  All I really have are the songs that he sang - songs that defined many people's childhoods and songs that sent a message.  His death really hit a lot of people hard - myself included.  It was a similar feeling to how I felt when I heard that Michael Jackson died, or Robin Williams, or David Bowie.  Even though the only time you ever interacted with them was by watching them on television or listening to them on the radio, hearing that they had passed on is very much like losing an old friend.  They were always there with you when you were feeling happy or feeling sad.  And while the memories will remain via all of the work they released, there will still be that void in a sense.

But I have a feeling that if there is a heaven in this world, Tom Petty is probably giving one of the greatest performances ever.  

I'd like to think that he learned to fly...because he got his wings.

1 comment:

  1. ...just when you think some people have always been, are and forever will be... :/