Was he Shakespeare? No. But Tom Petty could rock.
He was my first concert. A friend of mine showed up on my doorstep sometime in the summer of ’79, and said his brother had a couple of extra tickets to see TP in concert at the Universal Amphitheater (back when it was an outdoor venue). My parents were ok with it, so I went.
This was the “Lawsuit Tour” … he had sued his record company to gain more financial control over his own music. I remember him dedicating the last song to his lawyers. It was a new one: “Century City.” I hadn’t heard it before.
Of course, I knew exactly one song: “Breakdown.” But it didn’t matter. This was something powerful. Within a week, I had both albums in my room, playing them over and over. And when Damn the Torpedoes came out later that year, that became my favorite album for almost a year.
It’s still one of my faves. “Refugee” is a monster anthem (but it can be heartbreaking as well…check out Melissa Etheridge’s acoustic cover). The aforementioned “Century City” is a rave-up that still gets me going. But the coup de grace? “Here Comes My Girl”… it’s an almost perfect song both lyrically and musically…the minimalist repetitious guitar solo in the middle (it’s almost like he’s mesmerized by his love and can’t even play)…and then that ending. “That’s right… THAT’S RIGHT!” then that minimalist guitar solo, growing in complexity until just as the music fades out, that Rickenbacker guitar cuts loose with an arpeggio-ed piece…that. Just. Soars.
TP, you will be missed; but your music is here forever.