My earliest memory of you had more to do with what I thought was my cousin’s poor taste in men and rock stars than in you or your music.
When I was living with my aunt and uncle at about the age of 10, my cousin Patty came home with a new crush. With your long thin hair, glint eyes and awkward overbite, I thought she could do better. You were trendy, and Beatles fan that I am, I expected a lot from my heroes.
You outlasted my expectations. When I heard “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (still my favorite video), wondering what woman you were referring to while you wagged your finger and gave your warning (as it turns out it wasn’t your warning at all but Stevie Nicks’ uttering after a breakup with Joe Walsh), I realized you were here to stay.
Then you joined Beatle George and Dylan for the Traveling Wilburys and I embraced you. I bought your albums, sang your songs and called myself a fan. My best friend Scot called me one too. As an early Christmas gift in late 1993 he bought me your Greatest Hits album. It had just come out. I still have it.
More than twenty years after that, I found comfort in a track off “Wildflowers” when I was grieving the loss of a love. Sometimes I still listen to it.
Recently, I caught myself wondering whether my cousin still carried her crush. Though I never asked her, last week, I got my answer. Patty posted pictures from her seats at the Hollywood Bowl. You were on stage. And I learned a few things…you still rocked, Patty still felt a tingle when she saw you and you were no longer “trendy”. What you have become, Tom Petty, is a legend and you’re a legend I’m proud to have listened to.