The freedom chime of that 2:30 bell was priceless. The heavy doors unlatched and burst open, releasing a herd of blue-jean, baseball and flannel shirt clad teenagers onto the school yard of green grass, fresh air and sunshine. Hi-jinx commenced, cigarettes lit up and music played. Whoever had a boom box carried it with them and all I can remember was hearing Tom Petty as we made our way to the Boulevard. “Even the losers, they get lucky sometimes.” We thought these days were never ending and it seemed as if his music had been playing forever as it fit in so perfectly with our teenage vibe.
A few years later, heartbreak hits as a young couple sits in the cab of a Chevy pickup. The cool autumn air seeping through the cab is as chilly as the mood inside. The first break-up is the worst and his words, like tiny daggers, left my fragile teenage heart in pieces. Tom Petty played on the radio and I remember one line so clearly spoke to me and summed it all up perfectly, “You got lucky babe, when I found you”. Just what I needed Tom.
As years the pass, four young ladies are ready to take on the world or at least an evening out. Chatting it up without room for a breath, no one notices the sea of beer cans and wine coolers in the back seat from a previous outing. One last glimpse in the rear view for eyes and lips and off they go. The tape gives a quick kerchunk as it lands in the player, then a hiss and Tom Petty plays again. In unison and at full voice “I’m Freeeee, Free Fallin!’” gives sense of liberation and smiles all around as they soar down the road.
I never saw Tom Petty in concert. I’m not even sure he was high on my bucket-list concerts, but if the opportunity came up I would have certainly taken it. It was like I thought he would always be there. His music - running in the forefront and in the background. It was the soundtrack to teenage years and growing up and heartbreak and independence. He just seemed to always be there; playing those familiar tunes – forever. But no matter how much we wish, these eras and old rockers don’t last forever and in the end what is left are the memories and the music. “We’re alright for now”, Tom Petty, and thanks for both.