Writings about Music
Sing Me A Song
Tom Petty created some of the most original and substantive rock songs ever. There was no one else quite like him while at the same time expanding upon Bob Dylan's vocal palette more closely than any other original. No other rock artist, save the Beach Boys and The Doors from an earlier era, captured the feeling of living in Los Angeles more evocatively than Petty. His Mary Jane's Last Dance remains the epitome of guitar-driven, minor key, coetaneous enchantment and danger.
Petty was a master of understatement, never forcing, while allowing his bountiful inspiration to flow. Once or more a year, it had become customary for me to indulge in a Petty binge, listening to the five or so songs of his that are masterpieces, absolute works of genius. His band members were superb too, manifestations of their leader's flawless taste and sense of balance. On one occasion, I thought I had met him while we both stood in the back of a California church during a service, exchanging supportive glances, but I may have been mistaken despite being known for uncanny facial recognition.
Not to indentify him in any way with the main character, of course, but it occurred to me that Tom Petty exemplifies better than any other rock musician I can think of Al Pacino's precept from The Devil's Advocate: Never let them see you coming.
- Michael Robinson, October 2017, Los Angeles
© 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).