Tina and I went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert last night and the show was fantastic. After all these years, Tom and the boys still put on one hell of a great show. They played for about two hours and had the audience on their feet through the entire show. And it’s that last part, all those aging rockers, beers in hand, swaying to the tunes, that really got me thinking.
Tom Petty is one of those artists blessed with a long career. His earliest hits with the Heartbreakers go back to 1976, and his blend Bob Dylan-style lyrics and pop-savvy melodies have kept him on the crest of superstar status ever since. He’s one of those singer-songwriters who have managed to make themselves the soundtrack for three generations of American teenagers. Those of us in that middle generation, the children of the mid 80s, are older now. We’ve got daytime jobs and responsibilities and going to a concert these days generally involves finding a babysitter first. Well, Tina and I got my brother to watch the kids, and we stayed out way later than we normally do, and here I am the next morning, staring bleary-eyed at the computer, wondering if maybe the music I’ve enjoyed for decades hasn’t aged more gracefully than I have. A scary realization, if it’s true.
But is it? Last night, I had a great time listening to “Renegade” and “American Girl” and “Breakdown” and yes even “Honeybee.” At one point, when Tom belted out those big open chords at the opening of “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” I turned to my wife and saw the joy on her face, and it made me think that maybe I’m not so not so old after all. I still take great joy out of the moment, and just because I have to get a babysitter before I have that moment, doesn’t take one iota of meaning from it.
I may listen to fossil rock, but I haven’t fossilized. Not yet.