Sunday, October 25, 2020

You Belong Somewhere You Feel Free

We celebrate what would have been Tom Petty's 70th Birthday.  I put on the video of last night's celebration with morning coffee and it completely transformed the day.  Each performance was rightly in the spirit of creating the best, personal version of the song.  Kudos to his daughter and all that produced this incredible 3 hour tribute.

We talk to friends so infrequently now that even the simplest remark can carry weight as we have more time to contemplate each word.   My friend, as I recall, was not a huge Petty fan but had come around after his death to appreciate Tom's music.  When you are so close with someone and they don't feel the same way about a band that you love, it's frustrating because you want to transfer all your gorgeous memories and life experiences that brought you to feel this way about the artist.  Due to age differences, some people enter an artist at the wrong time, or just a different one.  There is no way to put into words that lightning strike to my heart.

Tom Petty was there for so much of my emotional growth spurt as I've written about before but you can't relay those spiritual encounters, you can only make the pitch through the actual songs.  But the man himself, how he formed his band, his respect for each member as a true relationship and cohesive unit is something you can't ignore either.  His entire musical trip, all the way to how he died was admirable.  I mean, one could argue it was suicide by touring.  I can't accept it as logical but certainly proof of how deeply his love for the performance and live concerts ran through him, how he basically let his body disintegrate right on that stage.  Right or wrong, it was a final sacrifice for the fans and perhaps his last hand at the controls of his legacy.  

Even though he was from the south, all of us in the Midwest were granted cosmic permission to take one more step up on the evolutionary music scale when his efforts, through his mix of sound was undeniable to not just the states but the world.  He was proof that authentic wasn't exclusive to the Brits or the coasts.  Honestly, that was a chin-raising moment for so many of us in my town and I would imagine many others like it.  It was verification that our gut was correct, that this greatness lived in us too.  Hearing Breakdown at 15, changed my life forever.  It was kindling for a million fires around the states.  It awoke a restlessness, and a promise that if you follow the sound, it will take you to those better places, that so far you had only dreamed existed.  You have to remember that even though the 60s and 70s were amazing, the day to day living for a teenager in say Fort Wayne, Indiana for example was pretty bleak.  We had to live our own time and so much had already been done.  It was time to record our response but what could we possibly donate from such nothingness?  So, those first chords to any of the songs on Petty's first album was the giant pointer in the right direction.  For that alone, I'm forever indebted to this man and band.  His whole musical life was a huge gift to history, my history, that felt so very personal but in reality all these great musicians honoring him today hold an ember of that light too, along with a multitude of fans.  They show the scope of his impact and how powerful a contribution he was able to make with his unbroken vision.  Isn't it magical how we recognize great music, like a future memory, as if its been living dormant inside of us, until a band comes around and plays it or sings it?  At first confused, then wildly excited to hear that it really DOES exist! It's Alive!!!  

In 2020, Rock and Roll as a term holds this old man jeans stigma but it's actually a world born out of a very beautiful, humble place.  It's habitants hold a genuine, deep love and respect all musical roots, so much that they retain the spirit of sharing and inclusiveness at it's core.  Similar to being in a state of love, when you fill up with that joy, you just want everyone to be in it.  That kindness is one of my favorite attributes of the genre. This celebration is much needed particularly at this time in history to remember that spirit, the unique and inspirational music the likes of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers contributed to America.  To remember living in a time when we all wanted to build upon that greatness together. 

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