Honesty, Simplicity and Emotion: Remembering Tom Petty
Tom Petty wasn't the best guitarist on the music scene. He didn't have the most diverse musical repertoire, in terms of styles. And he was never the biggest rock star - certainly not at the level of, say, Springsteen, or Bono.
But Tom Petty was, to me, what a true artist is all about.
He was a songwriter who wrote straight ahead, real rock and roll. Whose songs spoke to much of the emotion we feel in our every day lives. Whose voice betrayed a vulnerability that touched us, moved us in very special ways.
Tom Petty was a true musical genius, a man who decided he knew what his art was going to be all about, and stayed true to that philosophy (and a specific style) throughout his 4 decade career. In many ways, he was very underrated, even though he created a catalog of music that almost everyone could sing at least a few lines of:
American Girl, Breakdown, Here Comes My Girl, Don't Come Around Here No More, You Got Lucky, Into The Great Wide Open, I Won't Back Down, Refugee, Mary Jane's Last Dance, Learning To Fly, The Waiting, and so many more.
His work embodied a level of honesty, simplicity and emotion at a level most of us aspire to achieve. He stuck to what he knew and what he believed in, no matter what the "market" was doing. He exhibited a genuineness and feeling that shone through clearly in his work.
It's what we all aspire to, no matter what we do for a living.
All of which means that, despite his passing last week, his work will endure. That many years from now, we'll hear those 3 chords and still be humming, that we're "a bad boy, for breaking her heart..."
"I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I'm gonna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for awhile
And I'm free, free fallin'"