Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tom Petty, 1950-2017.

The worlds of jazz, country, and rock music have lost many great performers this year -- in chronological order I've noted here the deaths of Al Jarreau, Chuck Berry, J. Geils, Gregg Allman, and Glen Campbell -- but I've yet to see an outpouring of grief on Facebook as tsunami-like as that following the death yesterday of Tom Petty. This, I think, is testimony to Petty's musical charisma as well as his adaptability over many years, not to changing fashions in rock but to new styles he created. It's also, sadly, testimony to his death at the age of 66, when he was still near the peak of his game.

I first heard him sometime in the late 1970s on WNEW-FM, the then AOR station that ended and began most of my days. I'm pretty sure the first song of his I heard -- at least the first I remember -- was "Listen to Her Heart":
 

I love the song for its triumphantly defiant lyrics and for its Byrds-like jangling guitars. The clip above is from a concert in Tom's home town, Gainesville, Florida, in 2006. Despite the passage of almost thirty years and some band personnel changes, the song is done just as it was recorded.

Tom had a long and fruitful musical association with Stevie Nicks, as exemplified by the clip below, from the same 2006 tour, of them doing "Stop Dragging My Heart Around":



I remember reading, years ago, that when Stevie met Tom's then wife Jane and asked her how they had met, Jane said, "I met Tom at the age of seventeen." Stevie mistook Jane's North Florida Cracker rendition of "age" for "edge," and it inspired this song:
 

So long, Tom, and thanks for all the songs.