Full speed ahead

I almost never get homesick.  But when I first moved abroad, to Edinburgh in 1991, the few times I did get homesick I listened to Damn the Torpedoes, or at least tracks 1-3, 7.   Nevertheless, Tom Petty's death seemed to me like ordinary news, which only begs the question -- why were Bowie's and Lennon's deaths such major events in my life?

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Lennon is particularly mysterious -- I didn't (despite considerable peer pressure) even listen to rock music until he died and filled the radio with Beatles for months, making it more palatable so I could finally migrate from the diet of classical and muzak I'd picked up from my parents to AOR.   Bowie I at least already owned two albums and two CDs by (Petty I just had three CDs), and had in fact just listened to his new album the day before he died, two days before his death was announced.  Someday I'll write a longer post about Bowie, I've got a million notes...

One thing that's clear though here now is that my responses have been in no way unique.  Every DJ on my favourite radio station, WMBR (which as a college radio station actually has a lot of distinct DJs) played tributes to Bowie, and as I said the entire of commercial rock radio was changed for months by Lennon's death.

And speaking of this lack of uniqueness, I'm wondering whether the only new thing I learned from the Washington Posts's obituary (oddly, the Guardian's was better) explains why Petty is one of the few white male southern rockers that really wrote songs that touched me.  Does getting beaten by your father from early childhood make you more in touch with women's feelings?  Is being perpetually teased and ostracised in school anything like being beaten in your own home?  I always wondered why the apparent callousness of Refugee appealed to me, but he's not singing to a woman, he's singing to himself.  I was always confused that my partner hated my attachment to Even the Losers even more than he hated the song, when I found it like many of Petty's songs more sincerely joyful than most rock'n'roll.

I was going to title this post We're Alright For Now (in case you're wondering what the other CDs I have of Petty's are -- again, no surprises. The other one I had back in 1991 was Hard Promises for The Waiting.)  But I had to google "torpedoes" to figure out how to spell it, and somehow this title seems more appropriate.