Funny how things work out sometimes. I’ve been feeling the pull to write a lot lately, but every time I sit down I seem to come up empty. Then, a couple weeks ago, a friend posted his “Playlist for the Apocalypse” and started blogging about the political commentary found in some of his favorite music. Shortly after, another friend posted his top ten most influential albums on Facebook. Next thing I knew I was strolling through my catalog and reminiscing about the past...
Tom Petty: Wildflowers (1994)
Some of y’all are Dylan, some Springsteen, maybe even Young. Me, I’m a Petty guy through and through.
I thought about throwing the early 90’s greatest hits album with the Heartbreakers, as that probably got the most play (Mary Jane’s Last Dance may have more spins than any song in my collection) , and definitely fits my overall aesthetic a little more closely.
But Wildflowers is what I picture whenever anyone mentions Tom Petty. I knew who Tom Petty was before ’94, but he was just more of that “old guy” music I hadn’t figured out yet. By ’94 I had thoroughly rejected the music of my parents (classic oldies, Three Dog Night, CCR etc.), and had run through a sup[er angsty, heavy metal/rap phase common to a lot of teens.
By the time Wildflowers wormed its way into my life I was 17, was driving a car and had my heart broken a time or two. And that’s it, right there. That’s Wildflowers to me. A not yet adult, starting to figure shit out (slowly); who’s experiencing more emotions than just “pissed”; who’s starting to dwell on the possibilities of what’s next; and who really enjoys playing “You don’t Know How It Feels” on repeat on his skip resistant Sony Discman with bass boost.
If I had to pin one emotion on this album, I think it would be HOPE. When the guitar kicks off the title track, I can’t help but smile. There’s just something beautiful, carefree about these songs. I found them at at time when the world was in front of me, when I was just about to set out an my own. I had no clue about the highs and lows, the roadblocks, the joys and the pain that lay before me. But what kind of journey would it be if we knew it before we left? Wildflowers, for me, is about that unknown, that possibility, and now that I’ve through a good portion of it, its about the journey itself. The possibility became reality. Maybe not in the way that 17 year old kid thought it would, but in the only way it ever could.
You may not how it feels to be me, but I can tell you. It feels pretty damn good.
Post Script Thoughts: For a guy who didn’t drink, smoke or even think about drugs until after high school, stoner rock sure made up a huge part of my formational music choices
Best Song: Wildflowers
Most Underrated Song: Don’t Fade On Me
Weirdest Song: Honey Bee