Whenever a celebrity dies my husband talks about how he doesn't understand mourning dead celebs. I think he's trying to be a tough guy but also I can't really judge him because I am a robot that doesn't cry. We all have heard about certain famous people dying and being like "Oh that's too bad" and then forgetting about it. But then there are others who pass away and it surprises you with how much you really feel it.
My mom cried when Walter Payton died and seemed surprised by her own reaction. Like I said, I don't cry, but I am surprised by the nerve that got exposed when Tom Petty passed away. I have so many sweet memories tied to his music, and both the memories and songs are tied to innocence and romance, both of which seem to be in short supply lately. I newly appreciate Tom Petty's style, his timeless cool, too. Like I don't feel embarrassed about how much I loved him when I was growing up. Unlike the Kirk Cameron poster I briefly had on my wall, Petty was a solid choice. On top of it all, this weekend is my high school reunion and I saw him in concert on the Wildflowers tour with some good high school friends in 1995. Our seats were so close I was convinced Tom was smiling at me personally. So all these teenage memories are really compressed like a panini lately.
But it has been strangely lovely to mourn Petty. I wish he was still alive, but his death has put me in a Tom Petty groove that feels both sad and wonderful at the same time. I have been rewatching his videos and "Runnin' Down a Dream" and listening to him on repeat. I didn't realize how much I badly needed a return to Tom Petty's music right now: the hooks, the hand claps, the harmonies, the jangly guitars are a balm. I have been in touch with a few old friends talking about the memories connected to music as well, which is the kind of thing life is all about.
My generation is probably having our Big Chill/Thirtysomething moment (or about) to have one where we are like "Holy shit--am I young or am I old?" At least I'm glad to have a good soundtrack for the ride.