I was completely stunned to hear that Tom Petty dies last night. I remember hearing the song “Refugee” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers when it first played on the radio in early 1980 and I was amazed at the sound of the band, but the lyrics, and by Tom Petty’s voice. It seemed like the perfect mixture of talent and appeal. I was about to turn 16 that month and I thought that these were musicians that I could follow for years if I was lucky.
It turned out that I was very lucky indeed, but 37 years later, the music has stopped. Much like David Bowie and Prince, Tom Petty is a huge part to the soundtrack of my life. The various incarnations of Tom Petty, and also of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, was a wonderful accompaniment to my personal journey. My musical tastes have expanded through my life, but Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers always have a prime spot on the playlist.
A great song captures the moment when you first hear it. It preserves the memories like nothing else. When I want to think back to a part of my life there is always a song that will take me there. Tom Petty’s music always brings a smile because it was so beautiful.
Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground
Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there
And revel in your abandon
Listen it don’t make no difference to me baby
Everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee
Now baby you don’t have to live like a refugee
Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue
Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still
I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
I wanna free fall, out into nothin’
I wanna leave this world for awhile
Thank you for the music, Tom. R.I.P.