Our View: Petty's music floated high above trendiness


Rocky Mount Telegram

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

His voice bore a little bit of the weariness of early Bob Dylan. His Rickenbacker guitar echoed those shimmering hooks by the Byrds. But the heart and soul in Tom Petty’s music was all his own.

He belonged to all of us, really. He slipped onto the radio and into the passenger seat of our cars sometime in the 1970s and never left. A remarkable career of hit after hit, year after year that hardly any other icon of rock -- Dylan, Springsteen, not even the Rolling Stones -- could match.

And on Monday, a day when almost any of his songs might have given us a bit of a hug after the horrible shootings in Las Vegas, he slipped away just as casually. Far too young, at age 66.

Oh, Tom. Lord knows we miss you already.

Anyone with a set of car keys could roll down the windows and let “Free Fallin’” fill a sweet summer night. Anyone who has ever loved could shed a tear for the lost someone in “Echo.” And anyone who has ever stood up alone for a cause could harness the power of “I Won’t Back Down.”

Petty’s songs never seemed contrived or sharpened by political nonsense. They just tapped you on the shoulder and said, “Hey. Ever feel like this? Me, too.”

His music had a consistency that floated high above trendy sounds and fickle magazines. It carried us through school, weddings, careers, kids and the loss of friends and loved ones. And now we turn to it to get us through this awful week of carnage and senselessness.

We’re so thankful for the music, Tom. Just wish you were still here, too.