Into the Great Wide Open
We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post to speak for a moment about the man who's voice has dominated our road trips for the past 4 years, and helped make music lovers of us both since forever; Tom Petty. Tom passed away this week at the age of 66. Which, if you ask me, is entirely too young an age for a God of Rock and Roll to die.
Lindsay and I like road trips. I drive, and she works on her editing at times and at other times sings me ridiculous songs about our dog, Ben, or how much she loves me. We've driven 6 hours to Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania just to camp one night and turn around to drive home the next day. We did a 2,700 mile road trip in 5 days with the New York punk band, T-Rextasy. We did a Vegas-LA-San Fran-Vegas trip with my 15 year old daughter, taking the Pacific Coast Highway. We took my oldest son and his girlfriend on a Costa Rican road trip. We spent 8 days driving around Colorado. We've driven to New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Canada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, all from Connecticut where we live. When I say we like road trips, I really mean it.
And the one thing every one of those road trips have in common is that at some point on that drive it is guaranteed that we rolled down the windows and sang along to Tom Petty. Whether the song was "Learning to Fly", "American Girl", "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "Into the Great Wide Open" or a myriad of other songs that we could all sing word for word, Tom Petty's voice made every road trip just a little more fun.
Lindsay and I were thankfully able to see Tom and the Heartbreakers play this past summer at The Meadows Music Theater in Hartford, Connecticut (I refuse to call it anything other than the Meadows). We've seen some pretty outstanding concerts over the years including Lauryn Hill, Lorde, Benjamin Booker, and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We've been backstage at Van's Warped Tour more times than I can count, and saw Chino from Deftones and Slash from Guns N Roses cover Foxylady at SXSW. But this Tom Petty concert stands out as something special. Maybe it was because it was one of his last concerts, although by the way he wowed us on stage I can't imagine thinking we would have surmised it to be that back then. Maybe it was because we were with some great friends, and ran into my family who's ages ranged from 17 to older than Tom Petty himself.
Honestly though, I think it's because we were listening to Tom Petty under the stars with around 30,000 people of all ages, races, sexes, political preferences, career backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses and when "Free Fallin'" came on, every single one of us sang along. Every. Single. One.
Music has the ability to make us feel better. It has the ability to make a long road trip a bit more fun. A good song makes us all sound a little better, after a beer or two, when you sing the lyrics with good friends. A talented songwriter can pen songs that gets everyone attending the 2008 Super Bowl to sing along. Tom Petty gave us these songs for over 40 years.
So today, crack your car windows, put on some Tom Petty, and sing along. Trust me, you'll feel a little bit better.
And to Tom Petty, somewhere out there in the Universe, thank you for the music.
"You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free"