Friday Firesmith – Tom Petty

I lived alone for the first time in my life in 1980, at the age of 19. When I was a young teen, music was Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and that sort of thing, but the world was changing and music was changing with it. After a few years of suffering through Disco, New Wave was breaking out and breaking up the old genres of radio music In the middle of the turmoil that would be the early eighties, a song titled “Refugee” came out, and I remember listening to it one night, and realizing that I really liked it. I had never heard of Tom Petty, but he had been around for a while.

I drifted around, joined the army, did my time, and finally landed in Valdosta Georgia in 1985, and that was about the time “Don’t Come Around Here No More” hit MTV. 1985 was the year for MTV and Tom Petty with his Alice in Wonderland themed hit, kicked off the surreal quality and the artistic soul that made that year what it was. I was fascinated by the video and to this day, I like to watch Wish Folsom going through the rabbit hole that was that music.

By 1989, Petty had released a song titled “Jammin’ Me” and I had a female friend who really liked the album it came off of, “Let me Up (I’ve had enough)”. She and I drank together and had an affair that led to the end of our friendship. I have no idea what happened to her after she left Valdosta, but there was a lot of mystery as to what happened and why it happened. But once again, I can link Tom Petty’s music to a part of my life.

1992 found my life in a state of flux again, and this on the heels of the 1991 release of “Into The Great Wide Open” by Petty. I moved across the state and didn’t like much that was going on, but I did have a familiar soundtrack, with Petty on board again. Looking back now, at that time of my life, I see that I didn’t realize that Tom Petty’s music had been a part of my life for well over a decade. I just never really noticed it. He was just always there, in the background.

1994 saw “Wildflowers” come out and I had moved again. It was to be the last Tom Petty CD that I would really listen to, and in the end, this is where I lost touch with his music entirely until his death earlier this week.

I never saw him in concert, I don’t have any stories about the two of us meeting, and I wasn’t such a fan I bought everything he ever made. Mostly, I think Tom Petty was more or less background music to some times in my life that I think he made better through his work. That may or may not be something that makes him great, but this isn’t about telling you how great he was, but rather me telling you that Tom Petty’s music was something that I wrapped myself in on cold nights, no matter what the season, and found warmth, and comfort, and good music.

What was your favorite Tom Petty song and why?

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.