Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tom Petty Passes But His Songs Will Live On

“It’s shocking, crushing news. I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
--Bob Dylan

Was Cream the first "Supergroup"? Some would say, though there were many combinations of talented musicians and teams of musicians in the 60's and 70's, many of them together for one album before moving on. Cream broke and re-configured itself to become Blind Faith. The Byrds morphed into CSN&Y.

In the late1980's a set of veteran friends from earlier road warrior days were joined by a young upstart songwriting talent to become yet another legendary supergroup. When Tom Petty joined up with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne, the Travelling Wilburys were born.

Like many others yesterday, I was transfixed by what I was seeing and reading on my Twitterfeed detailing the horrors of Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas. In the middle of all this there appeared a mid-afternoon tweet announcing that Tom Petty had been taken to the hospital with cardiac arrest. A short time later he was pronounced dead.

Many Dylan fans associate Tom Petty with a worldwide tour in which he and the Heartbreakers accompanied Dylan "Down Under" in 1986. No doubt the friendship formed at that time helped stimulate the mutul respect that led to the formation of the Wilburys. When asked about how he became involved he jokingly said that it was stressful auditioning for the likes of Mr. Harrison and Mr. Dylan. (This quote is a very rough paraphrase, and someone will no doubt correct me in the comments.)

Like many rock musicians who have made it, Petty experessed the sentiment like this: "Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I'm concerned, that's success."

You can tell music was his life by the way he talked about it. "Music really isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s all about people relating to each other and doing something that’s really from the soul." This quote and others like it makes me think of many of the talented and serious musicians I myself have gotten to know over the course of a lifetime. (Read more Tom Petty quotes here.)

The Wilburys lost their first member within months of the release of their album. Roy Orbison died in December of 1988. George Harrison departed to join Orbison 19 years later.

There are several music videos featuring the group of friends. "Nobody's Child" (below) is a special song to me for a variety of reasons. And here's another.

Read the N.Y.Times tribute to Tom Petty here.

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Thank you, Tom, for all your great songs and the joy you shared through your music.

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