Rick: Last Night’s Ride Home

Photo: Rick Hirschmann

So we can all agree that this was one Monday that never should have happened.

We all woke up to the horror that was Las Vegas, and with barely time to digest what had happened came the news of Tom Petty.

Wait…what?  I just saw Tom and the Heartbreakers a few months ago! He looked so content, so happy to do what Tom Petty does…and just like that he was gone.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t the biggest Tom Petty fan in the 70’s, or even early 80’s.  I liked him fine, but it hadn’t clicked with me yet. Maybe it’s an age thing (I’ll get to that), but by the end of the 80’s and into the 90’s that changed. Add in a little (I mean very little) maturity, wisdom, life experience or just the presence of Father Time, and it happened. I heard the songs differently. I appreciated the musicianship that was The Heartbreakers so much more, and for that I am glad.

Late last night, for reasons that really don’t matter, I had to come back to work and take care of a few things. A couple of hours passed and it was after midnight, and now my 55th birthday, only an hour or so after the news became official.  All I could think about was his music, the rare opportunity I had to photograph his show in Champaign, what Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and the other Heartbreakers must be going through, and of course, his family.

So on the way home I rolled the windows down, opened the sunroof, put on a playlist of some of my personal favorites and drove. I took the long way home (apologies to Supertramp) just to hear a few more and smiled the whole way.

T.P. – Thanks for letting me get a little older and a little wiser with you.

(Be sure to watch the documentary “Runnin Down A Dream” on Netflix.  It’s too much for one sitting, but well worth it. Especially now)

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