Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Learning To Fly

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly“.

When Jason Aldean appeared on Saturday Night Live the Saturday after that awful Vegas tragedy, what did he play? He played a Tom Petty song, “I Won’t Back Down”. That choice was so right in so many ways.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on “I Won’t Back Down”.

Man, I love Tom Petty. He was something else. For me, he represented that link to the best in rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t rock that he played. These days rock has gone in dozens of directions. No, Tom Petty played that kind of rock I call Straight ahead Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Tom Petty always stood for that which was authentic in rock ‘n’ roll. Something that was honest and optimistic and working class and had a swing to it. In other words, he was a hell of a rocker, and he did the kind of music that said, “I ain’t gonna take no shit from anybody.” He was a musician who’d earned his spurs. He worked harder at his craft than most. He never forgot his roots. He never forgot the place he came from.

And that voice. It could be so kickass. Then turn around and be so sensitive and gentle.

He had one hell of a band. You don’t get to front a band like his unless you are the Real Deal. And I loved his work in The Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, George Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. Wanna see a Rock ‘n’ Roll Supergroup. The Traveling Wilburys were that group.

And he never cheated his audience. He gave some of the best shows. Because he cared about his craft and he cared about his audience.

That we lost him, it seems such a damned shame. But I gotta say that those who lost their lives that Sunday night in Vegas were treated to one kick-ass of a concert.

Thanks, Tom, for all the joy you brought us. We miss you. As Johnny Cash said of Tom Petty, he “was a good man to ride the river with.”

And just in case, you haven’t had enough of the great Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, watch this:

2 thoughts on “Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Learning To Fly

  1. Some mighty fine listening today, Don. Thanks. I especially enjoyed your description of rock as “Something that was honest and optimistic and working class and had a swing to it.” I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it explained better.

  2. Lovely post, Don… and yes, Tom was a legend and gone too soon. I was not a fan in my younger years, possibly as a child of the 80s I was into all sorts of alternatives. But I can appreciate his lyricism and uncompromising style. I appreciate him more as I age. Go figure, eh? xx MH

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