WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Death of a R&R Optimist!


Tom Petty has died.  A great, made in America, r&r optimist. Born and raised in "nowheresville," (Gainesville, Fla) at a young age, he decided to live the r&r dream. And he did it. He brought along some other characters on his journey, musicians he worked with over a life-time, including the guitarist Mike Campbell and the keyboardist Benmont Tench.

I think it's fair to say, even though Petty got all the accolades, (Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame with the Heartbreakers, hit singles and albums),  he and his work is still probably underrated.

If you've ever been in a car, just riding around town, windows down, listening to the radio, and a Tom Petty song came on, you always, always turned the radio up loud. It was just the natural, and right thing to do. Exhilarating.

Optimist? I think of some the titles and lines from of some of his great songs: "You don't have to live like a Refugee," "Running down a dream," "Even the losers get lucky sometimes," "I won't back down," "I'm FREE, FREE falling." Even a song about falling sounds uplifting, the emphasis is on the FREE part.

And that ringing, chiming Rickenbacker guitar? The sound is undeniable. Passed down from the Beatles, (see "Hard Day's Night") and the Byrds (just about any Byrds' song). Every chord rings with a shimmering possibility. 

I wrote about Peter Bogdanovich's 2007 film about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers here. Streaming on Netflix, an epic opus! I think my companion and I will watch it once again soon, in tribute to the man. Yes, shocked and saddened. I took the death of this r&r optimist pretty hard.

The highest accolade I can think of, applies to this man, in the way he lived and played through the years- "He was a cool guy!"

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