Best Thing We Ever Had
"I'm in trouble," I thought as the security guard approached me. I knew I was probably annoying the people around me, but I couldn't help it. I had to dance, even if it meant invading the space of others! I had already stepped on the woman's foot next to me twice. And, in the nosebleed seats where half the crowd stays seated, I'm sure I was blocking people's view of the stage. But, c'mon, it's a concert!
I straightened up and was prepared to argue with the guard as he came to me, but instead of hearing the words, "Ma'am, you are disturbing the people around you," he said, "Here, I think you need this." He shoved something into my hands. I looked down and it was a wristband. "This will grant you access to the section right in front of the stage. Go, have a great time!" I screamed with delight as I turned to my two friends and said, "I'll meet you out by the car after the show!"
I dashed off, navigating people and stairs as I made my way to the front section. I figured there was probably another hour left to the show. As the security guard had promised, the wrist band did grant me access to the front section of the Santa Barbara Bowl. I squeezed my way through the crowd and found myself 15 feet away from the stage, looking up at one of my heroes, Tom Petty. He started to play an acoustic version of the song "Learning to Fly" and, being a 19 year old freshman in college, it could not have been more appropriate. The moment did not pass me as I nearly cried hearing the lyrics. My first Tom Petty concert, at the end of my first year in Santa Barbara, remains one of my all time favorite memories. The guard, who's face I couldn't even quite make out in the dark, probably never realized how much his gift meant to me.
I was fortunate enough to see Tom Petty two more times in concert, most recently, this summer, on his 40th Anniversary tour. His music has meant so much to me throughout my life. His album, Full Moon Fever was released in 1989, when I was 5 years old. The song "Won't Back Down" was on heavy rotation on the radio. That song is the hook that baited me into music. Stubborn people often don't admit their doggedness, but I'll call myself out here and say that the lyric, "You can stand me up at the gates of hell/But I won't back down" is a personal anthem. Yes, even at five years old, I was ready to fight the good fight!
Rock n Roll died a little bit this week with Tom Petty's passing. I'll forever be grateful to him for creating such badass, fun, authentic music. I've been playing his music all week, and honestly, there is no better tribute to his legacy. In his song "Yer So Bad," he wrote, "Oh yer so bad, best thing I ever had/In a world gone mad, yer so bad." Tom Petty's music is the best thing we ever had and fortunately, that lives on forever.