Last week I was inspired by a poem about music—as the Spirit of God working through us in our stories. Our lives and the stories we tell about them. The joy, the drama, the sadness, tragedy, and sometimes horrific nature of our music.
It was a response to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings and accusations now under investigation. And those stories continue to move me because we should be listening to the stories through the politics. Try not to be distracted by the politics.
Listen to the stories.
Listen to the music.
Be the music.
It breaks my heart.
And to get some relief, I’ve just had to turn it off. Step away from the political news. Long ago I shut off the notifications on my phone, so I only check in with the news when I want to. When I’m ready to deal with it. Process it.
This week I’ve been listening again to more music—naturally, yesterday was Tom Petty day because he died a year ago on October 2. I love Tom Petty and I even met him once on his birthday while he was out on tour for the Southern Accents album back in the 80’s. He was a nice enough man for a quick handshake backstage, but I really only know him through his music.
Tom Petty had connections to my home town (Tulsa) because of Leon Russell. Tom Petty signed to Shelter Records (Leon’s label) for his early records and he was connected to Dwight Twilley (another hometown boy) musically in the 70’s before that.
There was always a little favoritism from my friends and me because of that. We didn’t feel like Tulsa got much credit outside of Leon or Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (house band at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom) so anybody who made the scene got some juice from us. And it was/is easy to love Tom Petty.
*“After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to
Yeah, and if she had to die tryin'
She had one little promise she was gonna keep…”
He is in the canon of the soundtrack of my life.
Tom Petty joined this legion of artists (too many) that have died in the last two years. Here’s by no means a complete list in no particular order:
George Michael, Sharon Jones, Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, John Berry, Prince, Merle Haggard, Denise Matthews (Vanity), Maurice White, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Pat DiNizio (a Jersey boy), Jim Nabors, Wayne Cochran, David Cassidy, Mel Tillis, Malcom Young, Fats Domino, Gordon Downie, Tom Petty, Grant Hart, Troy Gentry, Walter Becker, Glen Campbell, Chester Bennington, Gregg Allman, Chris Cornell, Don Williams, Chuck Berry, Al Jarreau, Butch Trucks, Marty Balin, Ed King, Aretha Franklin, Vinnie Paul, Scott Hutchison, Dolores O'Riordan, Fast Eddie Clarke.
They are in the canon, too. Not all, but the vast majority of them, anyway.
There was a running joke back in the Cheech and Chong days that if you smoked enough and played Black Sabbath at 78 speed, you’d see God.
Well, that never happened—at least not for me.
But I’m pretty sure I felt close to God a number of times at concerts, with my headphones on, and with the transistor radio playing softly under my pillow in the dead of night.
Sure, it makes me sad that all of these people died. That’s a train you can’t stop. But thank God, they left a mark. They left me that soundtrack and I don’t have to wait for it on the radio anymore.
When I need to unplug from today, I can go right back there whenever I want.
Right back to moment.
Grace and Peace,
*"American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers