Musings on the Muse Chapter 1 ~ Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Salutations & welcome to the inaugural outing of 'Musings on the Muse.'
I hope this series will capture your imagination and make you a slave, bent to my will and needing greater and greater doses of Rock n Roll (preferably mine) to get you through each day. Although I would happily settle for an occasional glance and some sense that it brings you a modicum of enjoyment. Now, dear reader, without further ado... Musings on the Muse.
My current musical obsession is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. I can say that I have been a casual fan for most of my life. His songs have been a ubiquitous presence since as far back as I can remember and over the years I have purchased a few CDs, 'Wildflowers', 'Full Moon Fever' and 'Damn the Torpedoes' all found their way in to my considerable library. Little did I know that years later I would be completely caught up in their work and buying TP vinyl like the wax junky that I have become.
My first true musical obsession was The Beatles. The assassination of John Lennon was actually a major touchstone in my life and the point at which I became absorbed in the world of music. They gave me great comfort, inspiration and happy place to exist during a childhood that was often very challenging, both at home and at school. I won't get too deep in to it now, but suffice it to say, I needed shelter.
As childhood gave way to my early teens, the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of the day became my focus. Ozzy, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and a little later, Slayer and Metallica incited an almost religious fervor. This was when I finally realized that the guitar would be my salvation. Before that, I had been given a toy drum kit and would incessantly beat my pencils in time to Ringo's cadences in my head in an effort to avoid my school work, but I never really learned to play. My mother, the way she had earlier with The Beatles, pointed me directly to Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. From there, it was all over. My fate was sealed. Rock n Roll would be my life. From then on, periodically, a new act or artist would intervene in my life and reignite my passion. In my 20's, The Allman Brothers Band, Stevie Wonder & Sly Stone, my 30's Terry Reid & Wilco. Here I am in my 40's and I've had my life strangely and infinitely enriched by the passing of two more giants. David Bowie and Tom Petty. They have become my comfort, inspiration and happy place, for which I am supremely grateful.
My Led Zep fixation has not subsided and likely never will. They became my gateway to so many avenues of music. Blues, Celtic Folk, Indian Classical, Funk and even Jazz all crept in via the Zeppelin portal. But what I really loved was the Bluesy, wooly, druggy, superstars of late 60's and 70's Rock. Black Sabbath, The Stones, Hendrix, Cream, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, The Grateful Dead, Deep Purple and many more began to feed my jones. And, in amongst the tapestry of those bold, colorful sounds on FM radio, there would be these tight, eminently singable tunes from Tom Petty's first few albums. Back then you could hear the live version of 'Breakdown' on the radio and 'American Girl', 'Listen to Her Heart', 'Refugee', 'Don't Do Me Like That', 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' and others would be in regular rotation. I always dug it, but it didn't quite fit in with brand of Rock that was the grist for my mill at that time. It seemed to harken back to the 1950's and '60's music of The Byrds, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers et al, that I had always appreciated, but never loved to the marrow. All that would change, praise the Gods & Goddesses. And Tom Petty would rightly assume his place in the pantheon.
I am happy to say that my TP love had kicked off before his passing and I was able to catch one incredible show at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens this past July. It was again the radio that had brought Tom and the band back to my ears. This time it was subscription-based satellite radio where Tom had his own station that featured a show called 'Buried Treasure' in which he would gleefully spin all of the music that had grabbed him from his early childhood and throughout his life. The more I listened, the more I realized that he was just like me! A complete and utter Rock n Roll zealot to the bone. I fell deeply in love with the music of Tom Petty and I could have never imagined that author of so many glorious hits could have a catalog so expansive and consistently great. Unparalleled, in my opinion. Nor did I realize what a top flight band The Heartbreakers were. I did not know just how great of a guitar player Mike Campbell is. I always admired his tone and phrasing, but I had no idea how much versatility and FIRE was there. Ditto with Benmont Tench, who is an absolute assassin on the keys and definitely the Heartbreakers' not so secret weapon. I could go on. All up and down the lineup it's a murderers' row built in the model of other greats like the J. Geils Band and Bruce's E Street Band. So much satisfying stuff... Impeccably produced albums... Each one stands firmly on its own and there is not a single dud. Not even one that is any less than very, very good. And we're talking 16 albums, plus plenty of odds & sods! It's been a wonder to me ever since I started digging.
These are the revelations that keep me going. They are the things that come along when I need them most to say 'Hey, the Magick is still here. You just gotta pull your head of your ass to see it.' And, indeed, it is. Despite the shit storm that is human existence on Planet Earth, the Magick remains here for those who would see it. For those who would wield it.
I always want to be one of those people.
Thank you for reading.
~ Cosmos Sunshine
PS Check out the TP playlist I've created on Tidal. It's comprised of the hits and deeper cuts that I most adore, but it is far from comprehensive, as it features only the ones with which I am familiar and I still have plenty of exploration left to do. Link below. Cheers!