I asked my wife to kick me in my backside. After her first attempt, I asked her to put a little something more into it. The second one had a little more gusto, and it served as my reminder to take care of things while they are in front of you rather than waiting until it's too late.
It's too late to see Tom Petty. Live, anyway. My very considerate wife reminded me that I could still watch Tom anytime I wanted. On my computer. On my TV. On my phone. In my mind. And yet, Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers join a list of regrets I carry called, "I never did see." Adding to my need to be kicked: The fortieth anniversary tour rolled through Berkeley last August 30, leaving me with very little excuse except that I figured there would always be one more tour. One more chance.
Tom Petty passed away on October 2, just a week after he and his band finished up his last tour at the Hollywood Bowl. I am certain there are fans who took in that last show and will savor the memories of it.
I will be listening to recordings and singing snippets of songs and wondering why I never bothered to get out and see a show. It might be that I spent so much time initially avoiding Tom Petty. That was my little brother's music. He wore out his copy of "Damn The Torpedoes." I was aware of this hit machine from Florida, but my sibling instincts kept me from diving in. It was another five years before I started paying full attention. Tom was hanging around with a host of different artists at that point, and when he released the video for "Don't Come Around Here No More," I was hooked. If that weren't enough, Tom was a Wilbury. The Traveling kind. Double hooked.
Somewhere around this time, I rediscovered the gem of a song, "American Girl." It could have been the one recording that got them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but there were so many others. Forty years of them. And now they're done. Not gone. Just done. You can put a bow around it: The collected works of Tom Petty. And I think I might miss hearing the stories more than the music. Tom told a story about George Harrison that summed up both of their spirits so very nicely. It was about how George always carried two ukuleles with him, because you never know when somebody might want to strum.
And that's what I hope Tom is doing now: strumming a uke with his pal George. Not exactly live, but full of life. Aloha, Tom. You rocked the Terra.