I Won’t Back Down: Farewell, Tom Petty

Tom Petty, Tribute, music, musician, I won't back down

From a libertarian standpoint, there’s been a LOT to talk about in the news as of late…but what else is new. However, as an artist running one of the largest libertarian creative blogs out there, I really didn’t think I could miss the chance to honor Tom Petty, who passed away from this Earth on October 2, 2017. He was 66 years old. I’m not sure really what his personal beliefs were (apart from what may come through in some of his music), but he talked a lot about life. And hey, that can be some pretty important stuff. It’s also said that he was a staunch guardian of his artistic control and artistic freedom.

As for Tom Petty, the man? Well, apparently he was an early fan of Elvis and The Rolling Stones. One of his guitar teachers was Don Felder, who would later join the Eagles. Before becoming a music superstar, he supposedly worked as a groundskeeper for the University of Florida, as well as briefly working as a gravedigger. Later, he would work to overcome a difficult relationship with his father. He appeared in the 1997 film The Postman (starring Kevin Costner), and had a role on the animated comedy, King of the Hill. He was married, and has two daughters and a stepson.

Some personal favorites from Tom Petty’s journey as a musician:

Gen X’ers won’t soon forget Free Fallin, the title track from Tom Petty’s 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever. Ranked amongst Rolling Stone’s 500 great songs of all time, the song is fondly remembered as a tune often played at high school dances, or on the radio in the early to mid 90’s. Whenever I give it a listen, I find myself thinking of the music video, which features 90s kids hanging out and having fun together at places like the Westside Pavilion Mall (surprisingly still in existence). Ahh, for those days when the malls were awesome, kids were cool, and things didn’t seem quite so complicated. Did such a time ever really exist?

With defiant lyrics that speak about standing ground against oppressive forces, or not letting the world drag you down, I Won’t Back Down, also from Full Moon Fever, is what the libertarian Republic calls “the musical version of Patrick Henry’s quote ‘ Give me liberty or give me death!’” Libertarian Republic also notes in their article of top 10 hardcore libertarian songs that, “As libertarians, we often receive resistance to our ideals, both from other citizens, and particularly from the government. However, we must always remain true to our principles and not ‘back down.’”

1991 saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers release Into the Great Wide Open, with Learning to Fly as the band’s longest-running number one hit single. The music video stars a young Johnny Depp. With a thoughtful message that grows even sweeter with each hardship that life can throw at you, this song talks about the loss of dreams and a fondness for those past days that may never return – but the drive to keep on.

Another recommendation is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1985 Southern Accents album, which features Don’t Come Around Here No More and Rebels. Southern Accents (the song) would later be covered by Johnny Cash for his Unchained album. Most of us probably remember the music video for Don’t Come Around Here No More, in which Alice from Alice in Wonderland is turned into a cake and eaten by Petty, who plays the Mad Hatter. In Rebels, Petty discusses being born a rebel “down in Dixie” on a Sunday morning, and talks about how his great grandfathers were also called rebels, and that those “blue bellied devils” (referring to the soldiers of the federal government) burned their cornfields and leveled their cities.

Naturally I couldn’t get by without mentioning Don’t Do Me Like That from the 1979 album, Damn the Torpedoes. As I drove around town and the surrounding countryside listening to classic rock (back in my college days), this was another one of those songs that I always enjoyed hearing come across the airwaves.

So farewell Tom Petty. Thanks for being such a talented person that left us with some great music and my own memories of being a kid “running down a dream”. Here’s to you as you head into the “Great Wide Open”. Godspeed.

Questions? Comments? Memories of growing up in the 90s? Want to talk about how awesome Generation X is? Let us know! Also, be sure to check out our libertarian artists page for our artist interviews and artwork from a variety of different artists in our community! You can also check out Libertopia’s own artwork page here, download our 60 page art ebook at Libertopia: Collection One (which is on sale for 99 cents) or check out our unique t-shirts, coffee cups and so much more over at the libertopia store!

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