I've never seen Tom Petty play live. I had a few of his albums, as well as his Greatest Hits CD (love his cover of "Something in the Air"). When I worked at a classic rock radio station in the early 90s, I was ticked when he did an interview show on another station and some of the DJs from our station went to the taping. They all got his new album, Full Moon Fever (with the terrific "Running Down a Dream") autographed. Had I know, I would've been there. Or at least given them a record to get signed.
Just a few weeks ago, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played at this Kaboo festival in town. He had played last year in town at a small venue with his first band "Mudcrunch."
Believe me, I've had many opportunities to see him live, but never did. When he played at my old college SDSU about 10 years ago, I figured I'd go up there and get him to sign an album for me. Now, I usually wear a T-shirt with the artist, if I have one. I figure that let's them know you're not an eBay seller but a real fan. I had a shirt from the '70s, that I bought when a record store was going out of business and it was an XX Large. That was too big for me as a 5th grader, but fits me nicely now. Well, there were about 5 fans waiting, and we see two white vans pull up. Petty walks out of the first one, and is stoned out of his mind. He's wearing sunglasses and smiling, as he walked by us. I asked for his autograph, and he just smiled, as he walked by. Inches from me...and he's not saying a word. Another guy in the band got out, and one of the fans went crazy. He apparently was the original drummer for the Average White Band, and this fan knew that. He got his autograph and they talked for a few minutes. A few of the other band members got out of the other van. It took me about 30 seconds to remember the guitarists name. Because of his long, curly black hair...I just kept thinking of Brian May from Queen. Then I remembered, and yelled out, "Hey Mr. Campbell? Can you sign my album?" He merely scowled and walked by me. I was pissed.
A year later, Mike Campbell and some other members of the Heartbreakers started a band called "The Dirty Knobs." They were playing a venue in San Diego for a mere $5. I was going to go to that, and get their autographs there. After they signed my album, I'd ask him why he dissed us at the Tom Petty show. I wanted him to have to answer to that. But...as (bad) luck would have it, that night I was at an event in Beverly Hills with Paul McCartney (when I got him to sign my Sgt. Pepper record). I figure it was better to get that taken care of than yell at somebody that dissed me.
Anyway, with the shooting at the country music festival in Las Vegas, and the death of Tom Petty...it feels like there's this sadness over music right now, which made me also write this parody of "American Pie" (the day the music died). Here it is:
AMERICAN (Girl) PIE
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how his music used to make me smile
And if I only knew …
That when he played Kaboo…
It would be my last chance.
To hear about Mary Jane’s Last Dance.
But October made me shiver
A shooting in Vegas, it figures.
Bad news on the radio…
I couldn’t take any more
I’ll always remember how I cried
“Damn the Torpedoes”, by my side
“Hard Promises” next, for a stereo ride
Today’s the day, Tom Petty died.
So bye bye, Miss American Girl
Ran down dreams in my Chevy, with my girl by my side
And them Wilbury boys, now three of them have died
I’m singin’ now this is the end of the line.
The End of the Line.
Yes he did write “You Don’t Know How it Feels”
But tonight we do, and it’s just too real.
I have a Full Moon Fever.
Now, he wanted to be a rock ‘n roll star
Mudcrutch, and Heartbreakers, there you are.
And he danced with Mary Jane real slow.
Well, I know that you’re in love with him
I heard “Breakdown” in a dance at the gym
He taught me even when I lose…
I’ll get lucky sometimes, it’s true.
Man, I dig his solo stuff, too.
I was a lonely teenager, heard “You Got Lucky”
I had glasses and braces, I felt sucky
Now I do again, because…
It’s the day Tom Petty died.
I started singing “Well she was an American Girl”
Then dove into a song about Learning to Fly
Them old Heartbreakers don’t have a dry eye
Singin’ this is now the day our music died.
Now, I was just a lad of about 10-years-old
Saw him on the cover of the Rolling Stone
Sunglasses, and cool as can be.
When I played his LP and an album by Queen
Wearing leather, a hat, and lookin’ so damn mean.
And a Dylanesque voice that makes you scream.
Oh, and while the King of Rock was lookin’ down
Him and Elvis now probably pal around.
Prince and Orbison have joined
And they’re jammin’, but we’re all burned.
And while Lennon sang with Chuck and Nelson Wilbury
The Million Dollar Quartet, came over to see
They all sang dirges, guitars gently weeped…
The day Tom Petty died.
We were singing, bye bye, Miss American Girl
Maybe “Southern Accents” now, I will give a whirl
That Beastie Boy Ad-Rock, and whiskey drinker Hendrix
Wonderin’ which Wilbury will be next
Dylan and Jeff Lynne are the only two left.
Helter Skelter, they’ll sing and feel better
The Byrds who Petty sounded like,
McGuine knows that Tom was better.
They’ll all light up and smoke some grass
The players of his bands, the sadness will pass
Morrison on the side stage, it’s a gas.
Now the halftime show, we heard a Sweet song
Ballroom Blitz, why are our rock stars gone?
We want to get up and dance
This is an ECHO of the past.
Now football players that take the field
The marching bands, and flag, but they just kneel
Do they recall the soldiers, veterans, and military…
And the many millions that have died?
We started singing...bye bye, Miss American Girl
The NFL players just sit, as the flag’s unfurled
The Oak Ridge Boys and country music fans
Also think this is the day the music died.
At a festival in Vegas the fans died.
Oh, and there they were all in one place
Two of The Who, sang “My Generation” up in space
With musicians always joining, they’ll just start again.
So come on, Happy Jack, don’t be Sad Jack so quick
Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Brian Jones, that will be a kick
Sympathy with the Devil, and Waiting on a Friend.
Oh, and we’ll think about John Bonham on that stage
Even though we still have his friend, Jimmy Page
No angels could really cop to it...
That rock ‘n roll was called Satan’s music
And as we cry, late into this Monday night
Rundgren will sing that he Saw the Light
Satan singin’ Rapper’s Delight
On the day, the music died.
And we’ll be singing, Bye Bye Love
Bye Bye Happiness
He’ll sing that with Orbison up there tonight
He’ll sing that with Orbison up there tonight.
He’ll meet a girl up there that sings the blues
Janis will ask him for some happy news
And she just smiled when he sang The Last DJ.
I’ll go down to that record store
So many out of business, they download music more
But the man with the vinyl let the music play.
And the Dancin’ in the Streets, just turned to screams
Don’t Do Me Like That, Petty now just in our dreams.
But now the words are all unspoken.
Our rock gods left our hearts broken.
And the three men I admire most
Two Beatles and Cobain -- now all ghosts.
Remember when Petty rocked the coast?
And now, we see he’s died.
And we’ll be singing….
You don’t, don’t, don’t have to live like a Refuge
Or maybe we’ll sing “You Got Lucky.”
Yesterday, it was The Waiting, that worried me
It’s confirmed that he’s gone, at just 66
He’s probably just smirkin’, singin’ “Route 66.”
Did the guy that took him from us have an extra 6?