Here’s the thing. You want your childhood favorites to live forever. You want them to remain young and vital and exciting and relevant and healthy and vibrant. You want them to remain the age they were when first they thrilled you, when first you saw them live and they made you swoon or pump your arms in excitement. In your mind, that’s exactly what you do. When you’re 15 and they’re 35, your memory of them is burned, so that when you’re 35, they’re eternally 35.
But bodies get older, they break down. Habits and lifestyles catch up. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on. An artist who stays true to themselves can parlay that excitement, though; for many music lovers around the world, Tom Petty never aged. He was forever the towheaded rebel with the tight jeans, the skinny body, and a killer smirk Elvis Presley would have appreciated, if not envied. But seeing pictures of him in 2017, even though his vibrant eyes were tired and youthful glow replaced by the tightening of time, he was still Tom Petty, cool rocker.
Tom Petty’s music was the epitome of rock and roll cool. When it comes to Petty, I don’t have a favorite song. I have a favorite discography. I could write 500 words saying “American Girl” was my favorite, but then I could find the same amount of words for “Refugee.” Or for “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Even the song I hated the most, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” I could still find some good in it, because it is, well…it’s Tom Petty, man.
But what better fitting song to close out a wonderful, event-filled life than with a song about death? Petty sang the verses–even doing an intentionally good Bob Dylan impersonation, as Dylan didn’t sing on the track–and would play the song on subsequent solo tours.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Petty.
And thank you for the music.
Note: We have heard conflicting reports about his passing; however, the situation is such that I’m going to keep this up until there is absolute certainty that the reports of his passing are wrong. It’s grim, to be sure, but in all honesty, it seems that the optimism is a bit naive and wishful.