A defiant Tom Petty

Posted10/18/2017 1:00 AM

Years ago, a DJ out of Chicago summed up the song "I Won't Back Down" with a remark, "A defiant Tom Petty." The phrasing and sense of his words seemed certainly perfect but as fleeting as anything else.

Las Vegas just happened Oct. 1. It happened to all of us and we don't know why. We can only try to wrangle it into some purpose, some ultimate reason, but most of the time it's useless in this too-often-clouded stream of events, of information, of pain and sorrow.


Tom Petty's songs came into our own lives at different moments so entirely specific to our lives that it is something that is not comprehended from each of our perspectives. The only thing we could have agreed upon is that they meant something, they offered us some kind of sense, some kind of unalterable information, a truth.

Petty's heart finally broke Oct. 1. It broke for a reason that he could only have ever sensed. But in that final expression, that last unalterable breath of logos out of his own existence among us, we were in an ineffable conversation and a tangible communion. His word, his truth, his suffering for flight gave us a necessary choice to go with him one last time to look out above Oct. 1's dark clouds to realize that our hearts could stop breaking so separately.

We all already knew, but we all might have forgotten, that you can stand us up at the gates of hell, but we wont back down. A defiant Tom Petty.

Matthew Sullivan


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