Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's Such A Drag When You're Living In The Past...

    It cannot be said enough how much Tom Petty affected my early musical education in my teenage years.
   It was probably sometime in late 1994 when I got my tape of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits... (yes... a tape...The dividing line between the two sides of the album  being between "You Got Lucky" and "Don't Come Around Here No More").....
   While my friends were immersed in Green Day and the Offspring, in the aftermath of Nirvana... I found something that clicked with me in Petty's songs. Teen angst was fun and all, but I'm guessing that I was subconsciously trying to find something with more background.... (in later years, I found the background/influences for most of these mid-90's acts to be of interest as well... oftentimes way more interesting than the bands of my generation.....)
    Now, I'm not writing this to explain the intricacy of the music,  because.. let's be honest... Tom Petty's songs aren't complicated. But there's something nicely brilliant about these simple songs that get their point across without dumbing down too much for the listening audience.
   Looking back on it, most of these songs by Petty were no less angry than the average grunge band on the radio at that time. It was just that the anger was more controlled and joined alongside other emotions, rather than the one-dimensional aggression that was exhibited by anything on the so-called "alternative" radio stations.
  Petty's lyrics touched on loss, resentment, and their own kind of anger; "You Got Lucky" being a prime example of a  pithy kiss-off to a lover. "Don't Come Around Here No More" illustrates just that and I'm still not sure what "Mary Jane's Last Dance" is specifically about... (however, that's part of the beauty of it, I think)....and "Here Comes My Girl" hits all the bitterness of living  in a small town, all the while producing a glimmer of hope by each chorus.
       Which brings me to the point that these songs always seemed to have a bit of hope in them, (mostly by the time you got to the songs from "Full Moon Fever")... An element that didn't really fit into most of those 90's band's vernacular...
     I listened to that tape constantly - so much to the point that the song-listing on each side was worn off, making it nearly unreadable for anyone except for myself.
     And then as years passed, I didn't listen to it quite as much. I moved onto other music and other bands. Yet those songs were always there, part of my teenage DNA. Even now as I'm a hell of a lot older, I still remember the words to every single song on the tape, (which is kind of a rarity for me).
    Several years later, I moved up and got an audio CD of that album, then it moved to my iPod., so it's never really left. As for the actual tape, it's still at my parents' house somewhere, along with its tattered insert. Which to me, seems like a fitting place. After all, if my parents hadn't sprung the money for a broke teenager, I might not be writing this particular blog entry.