I don’t want to write another Tom Petty memorial post and pretend like I was his biggest fan. I wasn’t. But he was always there. Reliably good. Someone whose music you could put on your turntable and please everyone.
Tom Petty created most of the soundtrack of my childhood life. My parents are big fans so we listened often. I still remember when they went to one of his shows while I was home sick with the stomach flu.
Petty’s music is ubiquitous. It fills the jukebox at every bar, is a voice in the din of every college party, and is standard karaoke fare. I didn’t know how much I appreciated Petty until June when a friend invited me along to the Minneapolis stop on the 40th Anniversary Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour. When she asked if I liked Tom Petty, my answer was, “Who doesn’t like Tom Petty?” I figured I would enjoy seeing him live; I didn’t anticipate the few weeks’ obsession with Petty that followed. In those following weeks I grew increasingly aware of Petty’s solid songwriting. I learned that he was in The Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup which included legends Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. And I began to see him as a rock legend.
Here some of the Tom Petty songs that formed my younger self’s playlist.