When I was thirteen, I walked up to the counter at Big Ben’s music store and asked “Who is this?” The bored clerk pointed to the red and black album displayed on the counter and said “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” I was stone cold in love from that moment on.
No, he wasn’t especially good-looking. But there was a gleam in his eye and a sly grin on his face that told you all you needed to know. He was funny and sexy and he never took anything, especially himself, all that seriously. Except the music. He always took the music seriously.
I remember an interview with Petty back in the 90s. He told his parents he was leaving school to become a musician. His father said he might want to get an education anyway, just in case he needed something to fall back on. But Petty replied, “I won’t fall back.” There were a lot of rough times at the beginning, but he was right. Tom Petty never fell back, he never backed down, and we have all his wonderful music because of it.
The song that was playing in the store when I was thirteen was “You Got Lucky.” I was lucky my parents wanted to rent a movie that night so I could hear that song on the store’s PA system. It’s still my favorite.