Monday was a hard day. To wake up to the horrific but increasingly uncommon news that there had been another mass shooting here in America was heartbreaking, maddening, and yet familiar. I could go into a blind rage-fueled rant about gun law but I just can’t right now. If you do want my thoughts on the topic, follow me on Twitter at @SenterClub for some of my political view points.
When the world gets heavy, I turn to music. It has been and will always be my greatest escape from the horrors of the world. And one of the voices I turn to most is Tom Petty. I have loved Petty since I was very young and heard Free Fallin’. To this day, that song remains the one song I will never own or put on a playlist. Ever. The reason is I love it so much that I want the true and utter joy of hearing it randomly. I have always believed that song to be the perfect driving with the windows down, friends piled into a car, and you sing your lungs out kind of song. I don’t want to plan for that feeling, I want it to happen to me. I hope that on a day many, many years from now, as I float off into whatever is next for my energy, that sound is playing.
Tom Petty has been there in many of the most important moments of my 34 years. From my love affair with Free Fallin’, to the power a young, overweight nerd pulled from I Won’t Back Down, a young man that finally came to grips with his severe depression with You Don’t Know How It Feels. An 18-year-old kid moving to San Jose, California, scared out of his mind, playing Runnin’ Down A Dream to convince himself that he hadn’t made a huge mistake. A late 20s guy trying to reconnect with his father by discovering The Traveling Wilburys and crying as he heard End of the Line for the first time.
And I literally could go on and on.
Tom Petty had an amazing catalog of hits but his whole body of work is stunning. His deepest cuts are the things of legend. Nightwatchman is a song that gets overlooked but my god – what a fantastic track. Hard Promises is a great album, but a forgotten-by-most album. Do yourself a favor and listen to it, start to finish. It deserves that kind of respect.
So Monday got a lot worse. My wife texted me the news and I just sunk. My heart hurt. I rushed to Twitter, praying it was ‘Fake News’. But it wasn’t. He was really gone. And I had to pull my car over, as I was driving back from a meeting. I cried. I cried and I cried. My mind was already full of the death and pain from Las Vegas and this just broke me. It’s times like this we need art, beauty, and truth. And with Tom Petty gone, we lost a lot of that. He was an American treasure, a poet that led generations through the ups and downs of the human condition. We have his music to help us along, but the world is still a darker place without him. Rest in Power Tom, you are already missed.