So I have not finished my series of posts about the California trip, but I really feel compelled to write about Tom Petty instead. As fate would have it, I will be traveling to Florida later this week for my cousin's wedding so I was already feeling a twinge of homesickness when the news of Tom Petty's death broke. Tom Petty is someone who did Florida proud. As a child born and raised in Florida in the 80s/90s, there was not always a lot to celebrate in the way of music and culture (or anything really) from Florida. I think most people associate Florida music with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimmy Buffet, Creed (God help us all) and of course, the Backstreet Boys and Nsync.
Well, life in east central Florida in a swampy, lower middle class town was much more Tom Petty than Jimmy Buffett. It's much more cinder block ranch house than Disney World castle. It's much more trade school than Florida Gator. It's much more skin cancer than Coppertone girl. Sure, there were good times and it is my home, but I always felt out of place and disconnected. Despite that, I connect Tom Petty lyrics to Florida in a way that makes me happy.
I remember when I was a kid my mom telling me about friends of hers who cried when Elvis got married and cried even more when he died and I always thought that sounded crazy, but now I understand. Tom Petty is, by far, my favorite musician of what is currently considered the classic rock era (although I realize even bands like Nirvana are played on the classic rock station now). I am pretty sure I was born listening to Tom Petty, given my age and my parents' ages and the fact that he has been making incredibly popular music my entire life.
I feel fortunate to have been born when I was and hear his music for so long- but not long enough. Every song, every lyric just feels like home in a way I can't explain.
This article expresses a lot of what I feel and I particularly love the quote "between Petty and the Gators, I prefer Petty".
Sidenote: this isn't really a comprehensive post about music in Florida but I will acknowledge the uptick in indie, punk, and metal bands in the late 90s and while this was awesome, being pale and wearing long, dark clothing never really jived with the image of "SUNNY FLORIDA" that of course perpetually ruled my teenage life.