July 20/12

today's weight: 171

Tom Petty

Tom Petty is ethnically American. One of my favourite lines of his is "...some Indiana boys on an Indiana night." (from Last Dance with Mary Jane). He talks about the road and about being outside - themes that especially speak to young Americans in a rural setting.

I remember when his album Full Moon Fever came out back in 1989. Of course I liked "I Won't Back Down", but I liked "Apartment Song" even better. Another song I like of Petty's is "Even the Losers (get lucky sometimes)", from his Damn the Torpedoes album.

One night in Mississippi - I think it was January 1, 1992 - I saw a young embodiment of Tom Petty. What I mean is, it wasn't actually Tom Petty, because this kid was only about 20, whereas Tom Petty, by then, was 41. However, this kid was exactly how you'd imagine Tom Petty at age 20. I was watching him from on board a Greyhound bus at a terminal. He was standing across the parking lot with two black guys. They were all smiling and started doing a dance. It was then that the young Petty caught my eye through the bus window. Not only were his face and hair the same as Petty's....more than that, his carefree attitude was arrestingly Tom Petty.

I was a long way from home that night. The young Petty didn't seem to be; down in the backwoods South, he was in his element. He was one of the reasons - just that 90 seconds or so I watched him - that I started to love the South, too. Whoever he was, he showed me that when you think you're in the wilderness - well, that just may be exactly where you ought to be anyway. Conversely, when you think you're where you should be, you could be mistaken. I belonged in Mississippi that night - and I probably still do, though sadly I haven't been able to get back there since.

Wherever you are, you "other" Tom Petty, thanks. You and the real Tom are the American patron saints for us weary travellers.

Wikipedia was a source for this article: here, here, and here.

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