October 3, 2017
I generally enjoy celebrating the deaths of celebrities, because the cult of celebrity is something I am personally and philosophically opposed to.
But Tom Petty didn’t really do anything bad, did he?
I mean, there was a lot of better music being made in the 80s and 90s. But Petty didn’t do anything specifically destructive to Western civilization, I don’t think.
When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their first album in 1976, few could have imagined they would become one of America’s biggest touring bands.
They were a scrappy, gritty garage band – initially lumped in with the punk and New Wave scenes.
But Petty, the son of a Florida insurance man, had an uncanny knack for melody that turned the band into one of the biggest acts of the 1980s.
Songs like Free Fallin’, Running Down A Dream and American Girl (the final track on that debut album) have become rock standards.
They’re so integral to the fabric of popular music that Sam Smith unintentionally lifted the melody for I Won’t Back Down on his breakthrough single, Stay With Me.
Ever the gentleman, Petty refused to take Smith to court, and declared he had “no hard feelings” towards the British star.
“All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.”
He was eventually given a co-writing credit on the song.
There were a whole lot worse people than Tom Petty.
I mean, he wasn’t really trying to hurt anyone, was he?
He was just trying to sing superficial feelgood music at a time when… maybe there was a little bit too much of that already.
But you know. I think he maybe tried to put in a little bit more than the rest of them did.
These are the ones I remember most, personally.
Besides the obvious ones, I mean.