You changed my life. It’s as simple as that.
Your lyrics are real; they’re genius and down-to-earth. When I listen to your songs, I don’t just hear them, I can feel them. The guitars in the background and the passion with which you sang all of your catchy refrains is unbelievable.
When I’m in a good mood, I listen to your songs. When I’m in a bad mood, I listen to your songs. There is just something magical about the songs that made me the person I am today.
I remember in junior high doodling in math class and writing you initials with a heart around them. One girl asked me who it was and I said it was you. She didn’t know who you were. Honestly, it’s her loss.
In those crazy junior high years when it was popular to listen to Katy Perry, Kesha, and Selena Gomez, I listened to your albums. They were the first to be downloaded on my iPod and the last thing I listened to before bed at night.
Now that I can drive, I listen to Tom Petty radio on Sirius XM, or I plug in my aux and find my Tom Petty playlist. There’s just something about your voice in those songs that takes me somewhere else; somewhere where no one judges me for the music I listen to or somewhere I can “leave this world for awhile”.
When I heard on the radio that you were doing your 40th anniversary tour, my bank account trembled. I knew that I needed to go and rock out with you: the greatest musician that ever lived. I made my cousin go with me and it was one of the greatest decisions I ever made.
That was one of the greatest days ever. There you were with the hair down to your shoulders, a guitar slug across you and the darkest shades, despite the fact that we were indoors. You had the coolest vibe about you and played the guitar like it was second nature to you. Being in the same room with you and hearing your soothing voice was unreal.
Your voice filled the arena and was met with cheers from 50 year old people who probably danced to your songs at their high school proms. I was probably one of the youngest people there, but I was definitely not the quietest. When you played “Learning to Fly” it was breathtaking. You sang the verse and we sang the refrain back and forth and together we filled the Schottenstein Center with the best noise it will ever hear.
When you died, I was a wreck. The only thing I listened to in the car was your songs and they just felt different in some way. If you wanted to leave a legacy, and I know you did, you definitely left one with me. The music world really suffers without you here and so do I.
Rest in peace Tom. “You being somewhere you feel free”