Think of me what you will, I have a little space to fill. Tom Petty
Senior year in high school, Tom Petty helped me find my way into the University of Michigan, I was Runnin’ Down A Dream, Free Falling and I knew no matter what happened I Won’t Back Down. Singing loudly in the back seat of cars, the rolling bass and jangling guitar was the bandaid being ripped off of my innocence. Music has always spoken directly to me, the stories helped me understand the physical and emotional changes I could not communicate with my own words.
In college, I lost too many dollars to the BMG music club, finding comfort in the shiny CDs that arrived providing clarity on the most confusing days. As each year passed my taste evolved thru the pulsating rhythms of Detroit techno and warehouse parties to the Full Moon raves of California and House music with a healthy “dose” of the Grateful Dead. It was a long strange trip indeed.
I landed in San Francisco in 1994, with a degree in Communications, debt, 2 turntables a mixer and a sound system, determined to play great music as loud as possible. My eclectic taste had me buying Deep House from Chicago, Trance and Ambient from Europe, Jazz and Soul from the 60s and 70s, and of course WildFlowers from Tom Petty. It was uncanny how his music spoke to my heart, helping me thru the longest nights and getting me from work to the sunsets of Ocean Beach. The cry for freedom was real and I was determined to get lost in San Francisco.
Over the years Tom Petty stayed relevant in my life at random moments, always a good soundtrack at work or on a road trip, but never as important as those anti-climactic years of transition. I was inspired when the Heartbreakers played 30 nights at The Fillmore, before recording their next album. I marveled at the genius of getting tight as a band and playing thru all of your music for people who knew every note. I was deep in other music and still regret not getting to some of those shows.
It was sad, yet strangely not shocking when I heard Tom Petty died. It almost seemed like a miracle he had lived so long. He told us decades ago it was Good To Be King and that we should “get to the point, roll another joint, and let’s head on down the road, there’s somewhere I have to go and you don’t know how it feels to be me.” As I look at my neighbors, friends and family, I remind myself everyone is fighting their own battle to be happy and healthy. There are moments of strength and moments of despair and pain. Like the ecstatic moments, these moments pass by like the fog rolling over the headlands into Sausalito and Mill Valley.
This is a year of opportunity, a chance to create the life we need and want for our planet and ourselves. I know there will be challenges I don’t move past, choices I will have to make and results I don’t want. I also know that I “belong among the wildflowers…somewhere you’ll feel free.” Some days I am so far from the answer I walk trying to remember what the question is. I remind myself to pursue experiences, document life and support people who need help.
As Tom Petty told us in Wake Up Time, the last song of WildFlowers, “if you follow your feelings, you follow your dreams, you might find the force, there in the trees, yeah you’ll be alright, it’s just gonna take time.” Ok, it will take a lot of work, sweat, tears, failures, hugs and high fives. While I want to feel all the feels this year, I also want to be less reactive. This is the space between, the place I will fill. Set some goals and do your best, because “even the losers, get lucky some time.”