“Come on man, everybody loves Tom Petty and burritos” – Marc Maron

Early in his latest comedy special, Marc Maron speculates about some of the common interests that might get us through our current political strife –Tom Petty was at the front of the very short list (even though Maron admits Petty might not be enough).  His words have rung true in last couple of days since Petty’s untimely passing – everyone seems to be feeling this particular loss. 

I don’t even really know how to begin talking about what Tom Petty has meant to music in general or me in particular.  I am quite certain that I am not going to crack this riddle that the entire corps of music reporters has collectively engaged over the past few days.  I could tell you that the first extended encounter I had with him was a taped copy of Full Moon Fever made from a friend’s CD, which I promptly wore out.  That I can still hear each nuance of his voice on those twelve tracks and that I still think the pause he inserts for CD listeners to wait while those listening on tape or vinyl turn the record is endearing. 

I could tell you that Into The Great Wide Open was—at twelve years old—the first record that I purchased on release day and that Petty’s 90s renaissance coincided with my first serious thoughts about pop music (I also liked that there was an interlude on Open too).  Or that because of my age and the limits of classic rock radio in New Orleans, I had to work backwards record by record to tracks like “Fooled Again,” “I Need to Know” and “Shadow of a Doubt,” while my friends moved into punk’s third wave and CD purchases were not nearly as regular as I would have liked. 

I could talk about ending up attending school at UF in Petty’s home town (a choice completely unrelated to my love of his music) and learning to recognize the landmarks of his old life as they became part of my new one.

I could wax poetic about standing on The Farm at Bonnaroo in 2006 and watching Stevie Nicks accompany the Heartbreakers on their 30th anniversary journey.  And I could talk about how powerful it is to be among 80,000 people all singing every word to a 21 song set. 

I could talk about how the Heartbreakers Live Anthology is our de facto road record or how gutted my wife and I were when we realized that we would never have the pleasure of embarrassing our newly born son by dragging him along with us to see Tom in his later years. 

What all of this ultimately signifies is Petty’s seemingly effortless ability to soundtrack a life.  There is an honesty to his writing and an earnestness to his voice that make his songs seem more like letters from an old friend.  They rarely aggressively reach out for your attention.  Rather—like the wallflowers of his second solo record—their mysteries are revealed with delicate and careful attention.  With any one thing that manages to touch so many people, the bulk of its mystery will remain ineffable.  Fortunately, Tom managed that for all of us.


Elliot Root opens for Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Tonight you can catch Elliot Root opening for Rainbow Kitten Surprise at Tipitina’s.  Elliot Root is touring on their debut record, Conjure.  There is a strong current of their Nashville base that runs through these songs and the spareness of the arrangements adds a certain depth.  You’ll want to check these guys out especially if you are already heading to Rainbow Kitten Surprise.  It’s a great pairing.  Check out the video for “10,000” below.


To Do This Week

Tonight check out Rainbow Kitten Surprise with Elliot Root at Tips or Dalek at Siberia.  Tomorrow the Ponderosa Stomp begins.  You’ll want to catch Roky Erickson performing the 13th Floor Elevators at the Stomp Friday.  The event unfolds Friday and Saturday at the Orpheum and has some truly outstanding performers in store for you.  Also Friday you can see Thundercat at Tips.  Saturday Vagabon rolls into Gasa Gasa.  Sunday check out The Queers at Santos Bar.  Wednesday (Sandy) Alex G will be at Gasa Gasa.  His latest record is really fantastic.  Make sure to catch this show. 


To Listen This Week