Tom Petty – A memory and a dream

“People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream’

Though I had been a fan for years, I didn’t see Tom Petty in concert until the tour for 2010’s “Mojo.” Made eight years after his and the Heartbreakers prior release, “The Last Dj.” (‘Highway Companion’ was a Petty solo project) “Mojo” was an album many were sure wouldn’t get made. “Petty’s irreverent now, why would he put out new music.”

‘Mojo” was just the psychedelic-crunch sonic shot over the bow of those who had relinquished Petty and & the Heartbreakers in the dump of classic rock nostalgia. The reports of rock’s demise were premature. There was more in the engine and it was ready to roar.

The supporting tour was a stirring mix of live rock ferocity and deeply melodic grooves that reminded older fans why they fell in love in the first place and coaxed new fans gladly into the fold.

From the start with 1976’s eponymous debut you knew Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a breath of fresh air. Populist heartland rock more melodic than the Boss, served with a punk-rock directness spoke to the intersection of the 70s into the 80s.

A soundtrack tailor-made for muscle car stereos all over America’s asphalt wonderland.

Petty went on to dominate FM radio as well as the newly introduced visual medium MTV. The back-alley pan shot in the video for ‘Refuge” showed a confident young ready for his destiny as a rock star.

Petty’s songs and arrangements sounded fresh, daring and yet familiar. Petty reflected his heroes – the Byrds, the Zombies, The Everly Brothers – skillfully embedded within the essence of songs so taut you couldn’t distinguish a single wasted note.

With Petty’s too early demise some will want to drop the curtain once and for all on rock and roll. That’s ridiculous and says more about their personal preferences than a proper read of the territory.

Few musicians embodied their time as singley as Tom Petty and still seemed to be of all rock history. A rarity that has influenced generations of young musicians that might, in time, carry that flame of heartland stories that make you throw a fist in the air as well as hum along.

One of my favorite deep cuts is ‘Luna,” the final song written in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Church Studio, before heading back to Hollywood to finish mixing their debut.

An early anomaly for a band that went on to be famous for guitar anthems. An improvised ballad made up on the spot with Stan Lynch on ARP synthesiser and guitar Mike Campbell using an Ebow with Benmont Tench on grand piano – an lovely but eerie piece from a band finding it’s legs.

——

White light cut a scar in the sky
Thin line of silver
The night was all clouded with dreams
Wind made me shiver
Black and yellow pools of light
Outside my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

The clouds are all silver and black
Floating around me
Luna come into my eyes
Luna surround me
With black and yellow pools of light
Fall by my window
Luna come to me tonight
I am a prisoner
Luna glide down from the moon

One thought on “Tom Petty – A memory and a dream

  1. Terry Thompson
    October 4, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Tom Petty was seven months younger than me. This, of course, serves to remind of the fragility and brevity of life. I was always a Tom Petty fan, but over the last few years, since the “Highway Companion” album especially, I have become a serious devotee. I feel a comradeship with Tom, and the Heartbreakers. Like me, they are mostly southerners. I was a personal friend of Jan Blair, Ron Blair’s sister, god rest her soul, a beautiful and sensitive person. All of these guys are reflections of Tom Petty’s genius. He didn’t just write incredible songs, he knew how to put the music together, and was a genius at finding the guys to help him do it. There won’t be anyone else like him, certainly, at least, in my lifetime. He is singing with the angels. Terry Thompson, Warner Robins, Georgia.

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