I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Tom Petty live—not once, but twice.
He played “Honey Bee.” He played “Wildflowers.” He lit my heart on fire with the beauty and simplicity of his songs, his voice, and his worldview.
As a 32-year-old Canadian woman, I am admittedly a bit young to be his main demographic—but, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house where Damn the Torpedoes and Full Moon Fever lived on cassette.
My parents, though not audiophiles, have respectable taste in music. At every garage sale, I searched the used CD section and bought all the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers albums that I could find.
His music became the soundtrack of my life.
1998: Junior high. I’m an awkward pre-teen. A song about freaks feels like home. I listen to “Zombie Zoo” on repeat.
2003: Grade 12. A student talent show, in which to fill time, two friends and I choreographed a dance to “Don’t Do Me Like That.” We wore fedoras. We were not professional dancers.
2007: I graduate from undergrad and move across the country for grad school. I leave my undergrad love interest and all my college friends behind. I was “Learning to Fly,” and being on my own was the hardest thing.
2010: I graduate from grad school and land my first “real” job. I pack all my belongings into the hand-me-down Toyota Corolla my (again) very respectable parents gifted their young professional of a daughter. I blast “Into the Great Wide Open” the whole drive to a new town, a new job, a new life.
2011: The relationship with my undergrad love interest ends. I date some people. Those relationships all break down. “Something Good Coming” becomes my mourning song, my heartbroken appeal to the universe.
2013: I land a great job—in another province. I move and leave my newest love behind. We decide to do the long distance thing. I tell him, “You and I Will Meet Again.” And we do. He gets a job and moves. We now live together.
2017: It happened. I received numerous texts and messages from friends: Did you hear about Tom? Their condolences. Their sadness. It was surreal.
He wasn’t a friend or a family member, he was an American rock star—a stranger. And yet, I feel loss. And I appreciate their concern. They understand the deep connection between a musician and his audience, how he speaks from his soul directly to yours. How, no matter your situation, there is always a song that was written solely for you, in that moment.
So, in the most recent yoga class I led, his music played over the speaker while we lied there in savasana. We used our breath and our openness to soak in his wisdom.
And, in the words of the late, great Tom Petty, “It’ll All Work Out.”
Tom Petty’s Lyrics Soothe the Ache in All of Us.
13 Songs in Celebration of Tom Petty.
Author: Andrea Coombs
Image: WikiMedia Commons; Flickr/Julio Enriquez
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Molly Murphy
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