Tom Petty, one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time, has been gone for almost two years. Not one documentary. No limited series. What gives?

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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

There's a mellow, laid-back, easygoing background noise I hear any time I think of my Grandmother's backyard out in Patchogue, NY. There's a low-hum that sounds of Americana anytime I think of the beach. It's a unique, peaceful melody, the lyrics of a generation that play in my head anytime I think of my life's favorite moments. There's a reason I am who I am today.


And it's the reason why I have been in a state of shock today and everyday for the past two years.

Tom Petty. You know the big ones: American Girl, Free Fallin', Refugee, Last Dance with Mary Jane, Runin' Down a Dream. Then the second round of classics: Learnin' to Fly, You Don't Know How it Feels, Here Comes my Girl, Into the Great Wide Open, Breakdown. Then the round three majors: Don't come Around Here No More, Listen to Her Heart, I Won't Back Down, I Need to Know, Even the Losers. And then you go deep library, for the Tom Petty Hardcores: Swingin', Wildflowers, Don't Fade on Me, It's Good to be King, Hungry No More, Crawling Back to You. And don't even get me started on his work with his secondary bands, Mudcrutch and The Travelling Wilbury's.


He's an American icon; transcending classic rock, southern rock, alternative, sometimes pop, Hell, at times even country. Forty-plus years of legendary music, withstanding the test of time, every trend, every cultural shift, every pivot in societal attitiude; Tom Petty never stopped rockin', and rockin' hard. He was the soundtrack to my soul, to many souls. He was the soundtrack for the American experience. Listen just once to Free Fallin' and you'll understand why. Take a dive into Learnin' to Fly, Swingin' and wrap it all together with American Girl and you'll understand why.

And it's why I'm in the state of shock that I'm in. Not because he passed away; while unfortunate, it happens to everybody. He was 66. Sad, absolutely. But not why I'm sad today. 

I'm sad today because it felt like everyone else has forgotten about the Tom Petty experience. The staying power of his brand, his attitude, the music he created. No documentaries on Netflix. Not one limited series on Showtime. How about a concert in his honor? I haven't seen jack s**t honoring one of the greatest musicians of the past fifty years. And it's upsetting.

Let's honor him. It's been two years. Hell, I'd even take a straight-to-DVD movie on the life and times of TP. From his record breaking lawsuit against his old record label, resulting in power shifting back to artists, to a pretty incredible fight against heroin in the nineties, to creating music for four-straight decades across multitudes of generations, it's a powerful story worth bringing to a silver screen or big screen.  


But while we wait for the digital content machine to catch up, do me a favor: buy a record player. Click a Tom Petty record -- any record (I'd go with a greatest hits one) -- set it up, and throw that needle down on Free Fallin'. Grab a beer and maybe even a cigarette, and let your eyelids softly close as you drift off to the wonders of everything that's right with you, at this very moment, and everything that's right with the world.

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