Tom Petty...

I loved Tom Petty, but even if you didn’t, he was a crucial historical American musical figure. He appeared just as the national consciousness was moving away from the organic mindset that gave rise to the country rock of the late 60’s and early 70’s. That optimistic, naïve acoustic twang was already in its twilight by 1976 as the nation’s disillusionment with the unfulfilled promise of the socially-conscious 60’s reached hangover mode, and as the US culturally (and literally) took a more urban turn, so did its pop music proclivities. Petty’s music was the perfect bridge coming at the perfect time; its jangly guitars and Hammond B3 looked back, while its decidedly punk vocal delivery looked ahead. He even had that “sneer” thing down on his early album covers. And as the decades passed and the landscape around him changed again and again, he remained relevant because he always struck that balance between reaffirming and reinventing himself and his music, without being the least bit contrived about it. He never made “art”, just really good craft. And he made even those who never touched a guitar understand what strumming a Rick 12 while smoking a really great doob felt like.