“Oh, my my, oh, hell yes
Honey, put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come ’cause I can’t stay long”
When I was thirteen, I saved my money, rode my bike to the record store and bought Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes LP. I had to have it because “Refugee” had this B3 organ sound and this soulful cutting voice that chilled me to the bone. It is another reason why I play Hammond organ. I went through two copies of that record. His song “Breakdown” is why I play Wurlitzer electric piano and not Rhodes.
Tom Petty had THAT sound and it changed me.
In my days of playing on Bourbon Street at the Tropical Isle, I played a handful of Tom Petty songs. Of them, “Free Fallin’”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” were my favorites. Those songs taught me the power of simple but poignant songwriting. He was the best of the best at it.
“And all the bad boys, are standing in the shadows, all the good girls are home with broken hearts”
Mulebone, the band I had with Mark Mullins pre Bonerama and Papa Grows Funk, covered “Honey Bee” from his Wildflowers record. Wildflowers is one of my favorite records. It has everything in it: rockers, introspective ballads, grooves, and hook after hook….
“you wreck me, baby, yeah, you break me in two”
It’s his body of work and his rock and roll ability to bend but not compromise his sound that makes him special. He was our Johnny Cash, for lack of a better example.
My favorite thing about Tom Petty is that he was extremely predictable. You knew what to expect. You could figure out the chords on the first pass, you could recite the rhymes before the end of the verse, you could tell the end was coming a mile away and it all lived up to the expectation of already knowing. He gave us exactly what we wanted, what we anticipated and it felt oh so good. There are not many artists like that.
Thank you Tom Petty for being in my life. Long may you rock and roll.
“It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing”