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To the Timeless Life and Music of Tom Petty

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | October 2, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | October 2, 2017 |

Updated: Despite several credible outlets reporting as much, Tom Petty has not passed away yet. We’ll keep you posted. Send good thoughts.

I don’t have it in me to feel more sadness about the events of today than I already do, so you know what? Can we take a moment to celebrate the life of Tom Petty, who passed away today?

Because here’s the thing: You know what I’ve never in my life heard before? Someone utter an ill word about Tom Petty. That right there is an amazing accomplishment for a musician who has been performing and recording great music and charting singles for 40 years. Tom Petty has been a constant in the lives of many of us, quietly lurking, with songs popping up in our proms, at our weddings, in movies and in television shows. The man has 133 soundtrack credits. There’s a Tom Petty song for every occasion, it seems. He was there in the 1970s with songs like “Don’t Do Me Like That,” and “Refugee.” He was part of the MTV revolution in the 80s with songs like “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” He was that guy who you didn’t quite understand why he was in the Traveling Wilburys, but it somehow made sense. He had 5 huge hits on his 1989 album Full Moon Fever. He charted in the 90s with “Into the Great Wide Open,” and “Learning to Fly” and “Wildflower.” He played in a huge 9/11 benefit concert, America: A Tribute to Heroes. He played the Super Bowl in 2008.

Tom Petty was just always kind of there, in our lives, popping up on the radio and improving our car rides (what Tom Petty single do you not sing along to whenever you hear it? None of them, because they don’t exist). I’ve always liked him, but I don’t think I really started truly appreciating him until I started hearing other bands cover his music, which is when it kind of dawned on me that Tom Petty is a goddamn institution. The man has sold 80 million albums. He has 11 Grammy nominations and two wins, including this year’s Person of the Year. He’s in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and here’s what’s kind of funny: I can instantly recognize any Tom Petty song, but I couldn’t tell you which era that it was from. Tom Petty has been making the same great music for 40 years, and he never saw any need to “change with the times.” Dude was timeless.

He passed away today after a heart attack at the age of 66, which is too damn early. But my God, what a spectacular life he led. Thanks for 40 years of great music, Tom Petty, and may you rest in peace, sir.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.