and I have a unique relationship. Granted, we have never met. The closest I have been to him was in row 7 at a concert 10 years ago. My first memory of him was in a hayloft, on my grandparents farm in Michigan. I remember hanging out with my older cousins. We spent entire afternoons listening to “Refugee” that summer.
As time went on, I remember thinking that Tom Petty was a musician that people of my mom’s generation liked to listen to. If anyone my age was a fan, it was because they were a “rocker” (jr. high slang word used to categorize a group of kids who listened to rock music, wore concert t-shirts and smoked.) I, was not a “rocker”. I have no idea what I was at that age when kids begin to find themselves and want to separate from their parents and their tastes. Duran Duran, Madonna, Wham and Howard Jones held my interest. Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen were for “older” people.
Even though I was trying to find my musical niche, I was still under the music influence of the adults in my life. I was like a sponge and absorbed all that I was exposed to. Well, maybe only the lyrics because if there was one thing I was sure of, it was that these “guys” (Tome, Bruce, Rod, Ric Ocasek, etc.) were not attractive. Rod Stewart in a tank top with shiny, skinny pants singing “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” made me want to vomit first, and then send him some clothes to cover up in.
Fast forward to the adult me. I am all grown up, married with children. But here’s a surprise: I own more Tom Petty CD’s than Wham, Madonna, Duran Duran and Howard Jones combined!
It seems that I absorbed more than I ever thought I would. It is permanent. I am proud that I am a Tom Petty music lover. I point out his songs to my kids when I hear them on the radio. I get excited when I get to learn one of his songs in my guitar class.
But I have to say, the most intriguing change comes over me when I am alone with Tom Petty. I become his girl. I am the girl he is singing about in all of his songs. I cause him heartbreak. He yearns for me. I am there for him, no matter what. He sings to me, “Our Love Was Built to Last”.
When I am cleaning the house, I put him on. I listen to his sweet, slightly twangy, but edgy Southern voice tell me things that I understand now as an adult. I sing along with him, my words surfacing from a vault in my brain that has collected lyrics over the years.
When I am alone with Tom Petty, I am young and available. I have long, blond hair blowing around me (like in the old MTV videos), tanned and toned legs a mile long perched on high heels. I “bring it” in a mini skirt and a tank top. I am his “American Girl”. I’m going to save him. I’m the best thing he ever had. I’m his “Honeybee”.
Although Tom Petty will never get a 10 in the looks department, he rocks my world when he sings. He really knows how to make a girl feel special. He makes cleaning the house a pleasurable experience.
I’m off to find my sponge and Simple Green now. I think I hear someone singing.