It's official. Tom Petty has passed away. Unexpected cardiac arrest, out of the blue.
I made an executive decision early in the days of the podcast that I would not create tribute episodes. The reason for that is the same reason I don’t feature holiday music in episodes. I want each episode to stand alone and be “evergreen.” i.e. you can play it at any time. So no, there won’t be a Tom Petty tribute episode.
But he surely does deserves one.
Tom Petty was all the rage when I came of age and started listening to music. While I was a fan of the Rolling Stones, they were a band I admired from afar. Likewise for The Police. But Petty somehow felt like “my generation” even though technically he’s about 14 years older than me.
But still. He was a rock star among us. He was one of us. There were rock stars that were flashier than he is, but he was a rock star that guys like me could aspire to. It’s like he’s part of the DNA of our culture. He was the rockstar that could have emerged from any of us if we could only drive down the highway fast enough.
And the music. The music was/is absolutely right for the times. Throughout his career, from beginning to end, he wrote the best road tunes. So many of his songs are good company. To borrow a phrase from one of his albums, they are Highway Companions. And no matter what he did from album to album, there was always a touchstone to roots music, be it the blues or country. It always sounded like it came from America.
There is not better example of road-tested music than Tom Petty’s rock & roll.