Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: tom petty (page 1 of 2)

The Cover-Up Is Always Worse Than The Crime

Jam Cruise and JamOn and jam bands in gen’ral
Rabies and scabies and diseases ven’ral
Douchebags on Instagram showin’ off their bling
These are a few of my most hated things.

And, of course, the Sincere Acoustic Cover. The Sincere Acoustic Cover (SAC) is responsible for Global Warming. The SAC gives puppies cancer–real cute ones, too–and blinds ducks and other waterfowl. Remember the Deepwater Horizon? SAC did that shit, and tricked Edward Windsor into becoming a Nazi. When you were a child, the world was full of wonder and promise; it is now not, and that is because of the SAC.

The SAC is why Trump won.

For the newcomers: there are rules to a Sincere Acoustic Cover. Come on and reiterate with me:

IT’S ALL RIGHT TO BE WHITE The SAC is, like lacrosse and the benefit of the doubt, only for honkies. An ethnic performing an SAC becomes, for the length of the song, an honorary white person. 80% of an SAC is growing up in a house with a three-car garage.

SAC, YOU BETTER WATCH YOUR SPEED Hey, hey, hey! What’s with that mildly-upbeat tempo you’re strumming there, hoss? Slow that shit down. How else are you going to over-emote the lyrics? How else are you going to let us know that you mean it, maaaaaan?

(A note/counterpoint: An SAC of the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen would be fucking hilarious.)

TINKLE TINKLE, YOU BIG FUCKING STAR (Piano only) See those keys all the way on the right? You better use those shits.

WHAT DO YOU CALL A DOG WITH A CANTALOUPE? Melancholy, motherfucker. That’s what we’re aiming for with an SAC. Regardless of what tone the original track took, the SAC only has one lane to drive down and it is the Melancholy Parkway. Not sad. Melancholy. You’re not singing about the bitch/bastard what done you wrong, no: you’re singing about the gal/feller you had a good time with, and now it’s over, but wasn’t it fun while it lasted? Maybe you see them on the Facebook and they look happy, and you think about hitting “like” on one of their posts, but then you don’t.

So: we have our ground rules, Enthusiasts. Everyone picked out their safe words? Wonderful. Like Ronald Reagan said, it is now a time of choosing.

This is by–and I am quoting–an enigmatic bossa nova band from Los Angeles called Ituana; it was recently featured in the hit show-for-ladies Big Little Pretty Little Lying Liars. While technically not an SAC, I feel that it qualifies because of how irrationally furious it made me. LISTEN TO HER BREATHINESS! It’s like Julee Cruise was having an asthma attack. This is the worst thing that’s even happened to humanity, and I am absolutely aware that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day as I make that statement. The Nazis could have saved money on Zyklon B had they just played this at Auschwitz, because everyone would have just killed themselves.

But it gets worse.

How, TotD? What could be lower, more rank, fouler than that bit of feculent shit–and feculent shit is the shittiest shit there is–that you just made us sit through?

Ladies and gentiles of the jury, I give you American Girl by Taylor Swift.

None of you made it all the way through, did you? I got to about a minute in and then I slammed my testicles in my desk drawer, like, six or seven times. Why? Because you can only feel one pain at a time. American Girl is a driving song, and this song does not make me want to drive: it makes me want to turn the car on with the garage door closed, and then shoot myself. It is the worst thing Taylor Swift’s ever done, and I am including John Mayer. It is–

“What the fuck was that, man?”

–so terrible that…excuse me?

“You’re excused. What was that shit?”

I know that nasal voice.

“Seriously, man: what the fuck was that shit?”

Taylor Swift.

“I don’t wanna know her.”

Good instinct.

“I got a lot of ’em.”

Dude? We miss you so much.


Totally. We all didn’t realize how much we loved you.

“You love me?”


“Don’t play that shit any more.”


I Can See Everything Tonight

God bless Tom Petty, and the rest of us, too.

Fourteen Thoughts On Tom Petty


You can’t blame Tom Petty for being a rock star; he met Elvis when he was ten. The King was shooting one of his trash movies in Florida, and Tom’s aunt was working on the production. She brought him along, and Elvis was as polite and charming as the legends make him out to be.


Remember that picture of Bill Clinton shaking hands with John Kennedy? It was like that for Tom, but with better hair. I bet he was wearing his best shirt, his church shirt. A movie set, wow; Elvis, holy shit. That calls for your church shirt. This was 1961. He would have had a crewcut. Ten-year-old boys had crewcuts in 1961.


The panhandle is the Deep South. South Florida is the North, most of it, blacks and Jews and Cubans and homosexual retirees, but North Florida is the South and the panhandle is the Deep South. On the Southern Accents tour, a giant Confederate flag backed up the band. Later, Tom would sneer at himself for hanging the damn thing back there. Tom Petty sneered real good.


Tom Petty was the wallpaper. The light fixtures, or the stop signs. So omnipresent as to become invisible.


All the eulogies, all the remembrances, all the articles, they all mention his father, There are euphemisms. They had a contentious relationship. Tom’s father did not understand his son. Tom was a sensitive boy, shy and bookish. These are euphemisms.

His father beat him, and called him a faggot.

Some fathers do such things.


The best line in American Girl isn’t the opening line. Not words at all, really. At the end, when the drums start thwacking and the backup vocals come in high and clear, Tom goes “Uh-HUH-hah,” and that’s the best line in the song.


The comparison was often made to Springsteen, but the similarities are only superficial. Both came from often-mocked states, played telecasters, had unsightly backing bands. But Bruce wanted to be Dylan, and Tom wanted to be in The Byrds.


Younger Enthusiasts probably know his songs, but not his videos; MTV played them constantly back when MTV played videos. My favorite was You Got Lucky. Tom and the Heartbreakers are all Mad Maxes, and they come upon a tent full of rock and roll. Around half of all concept videos and albums in the 80’s were about redeeming a dystopian future via the power of rock and roll. Which is, in hindsight, optimistic. Nowadays, dystopias get worse.


He was from LA. He was born in Florida, but he was from LA. Moved out with his first band, Mudcrutch, in the early 70’s and never left.

Americans can be from wherever they want to be.


The buildup song is tough to pull off. Gotta keep it moving, but it’s gotta stay restrained until that moment–around three minutes in–it ERUPTS in goofy glory and enraptures all within listening distance to sing, dance, air drum. In The Air Tonight might be the most famous, but Don’t Come Around Here No More may top it. In The Air Tonight is all studio bullshit, but Don’t Come Around here is just a chick belting her lungs out while Tom and the boys shift into a major key. It’s more honest.


Complicated is easier than simple. Places to hide in complicated.

Well it was nearly summer, we sat on your roof
Yeah we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I showed you stars you never could see
Babe, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

Where do you hide in there? Free Fallin’ has three chords. Simplicity reveals inherence.


I remember crying the first time I heard You Don’t Know How It Feels. I was sitting in my dorm room on Beacon Street in a butterfly chair. Everyone had them. Metal frames that blossomed like an uncomfortable flower covered by a canvas pouch. Mine was black. The teevee was up on a dresser, and I leaned back and watched the video and cried.

My father would have called me a faggot, and beat me.

Some fathers do such things.


Nothing written about Tom Petty after his death did not contain the word “American” forty or fifty times.


That which we believe to be permanent so often proves not to be at the most inopportune moments.


One day, the highways will die. Our mighty Interstate will slip under the ivy and fescue and be penetrated by grass and dandelions, and then you’ll not be able to tell rock from tarmac, and after that it won’t be there at all. Fields of summer wheat, unharvested, limping and waving where I-40 used to zip. No more traffic on the 101, just sage and thistle and brushberry. Brambles where there used to be truck stops.

And if you put your ear to the ground, you’ll still be able to hear Refugee.

We Got Lucky

Presented without comment.

Fogey Mountain Breakdown

  • Mary Jane’s Last Dancin’ In The Streets.
  • We Can Running Down A Dream.
  • Rosa Lee MacFree Fallin’.
  • Good Morning Little American Girl.
  • I Won’t Feedback Down.
  • Standing On The Full Moon Fever.
  • Don’t Come Around And Around Here No More.

I’ll Await The Day

From the first note to the chorus is 34 seconds. If you’re going to write a song about regret, and you want it to be a hit, then you have to get to the chorus as soon as possible.


From ten years ago, the Heartbreakers’ 30th anniversary. Stevie Nicks is there for some of the show, and the room is packed and Tom plays all his hits.  The crowd sings along. They know every word, just as you and I do.

Fourteen Thoughts


Dancing With The Stars was on tonight. I’m not a regular viewer, but I caught the first few minutes. The host is a man named Tom Bergeron; he looks like a model from the 1979 Sears catalog; he was born with sincere eyes. Tom looked right into the camera, right at me, and he asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the most recent massacre. The lights in the studio dimmed for a second, two, three, and then they came back up and Terrell Owens and Frankie Muniz jitterbugged to Everybody Dance Now. Frankie was wearing double denim that had undergone bedazzling.

C’mon out here, Frankie, and show ’em what they’re fighting for.


Tom Petty just got off tour. Big one. 40th anniversary for him and the Heartbreakers. They played baseball stadiums, Wrigley and Coors Field, and the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. After the news of the day cleared out from the trending list on Twitter–real late at night–his name would pop up. The shows were all sold out, and Tom Petty played all his hits. Folks would post videos. They were invariably Free Fallin’. Every man, woman, and child in those stadiums would sing along in the chorus. The part where it jumps up an octave. A lot of things made that song a hit, but the bit where it jumps that octave is the true hook.


The stage where Jason Aldean was performing, closing out the festival at around ten pm, is 400 yards from the Mandalay Bay. The room the shooter had chosen for his blind was on the 32nd floor. This means that the distance from the window to the crowd is over 1200 feet. Around a quarter of a mile. At that distance, faces cannot be made out with the naked eye even in daylight. Just shapes. Human silhouettes.

Just like at the range.


Go and fetch a pen. Your favorite, the one that writes so smooth. Pad, too. If you don’t have a pad, use an unpaid gas bill. I’ll wait.

You ready? Good.

Write an opening line this good:

She was an American girl;
Raised on promises.

You’ll run out of ink before you do.


In the doctor’s office this afternoon, MSNBC was playing; I’m not a regular viewer. Brian Williams was speaking. They let him do that, for some reason. He had a man from some sort of security consulting firm on, one of those companies with the vaguely threatening names. Brian asked what was to be done, and the man began speaking about the need to harden soft targets. I put in my headphones and listened to the Hold Steady. There was a magazine with an Audi on the cover, and I looked at that.


I kept hearing the shooter’s name as Tom Stoppard, and wondering how tough the life of a playwright must be.


Tom Petty made driving music. Songs for an American highway. Driving music needs a particular tempo: too slow and you’re causing traffic jams, but too fast and the law will take an interest. Driving songs don’t need speed, just momentum. Forward thrust. Put on any Tom Petty record and your window will roll itself down.


The initial burst from the shooter’s automatic weapon was nine seconds long. Close your eyes and count off nine seconds. One Mississippi, etc. Close your eyes and count off nine seconds. I’ll do it with you.

It was longer than you thought it would be, wasn’t it?


As I write this, 59 are dead. More will die, but right now the toll stands at 59. An NFL roster is 54 people. It is the worst massacre in modern history, beating the previous massacre by 9 corpses. The previous massacre was last year. We do not count historical massacres, as they were more complicated than we’d prefer. These new massacres are simple. They are just like the superhero movies everyone loves.

A very special man uses force to change the world. He succeeds, temporarily, but by the mid-credit scene everything is back to the status quo.



Ah, go fuck yourself.


Classical physics deals with position. A physical object occupies one at a time. Quantum physics disagrees, as quantum physics is an inherently belligerent science. Objects cannot be said to occupy any position with certainty until they’re pinned like butterflies by an observer’s eyeball. Nothing’s here, and nothing’s there; particles have a 50% chance of being here, and a 30% chance of being there, and a 10% chance of being there, and it continues on asymptotically. This is called superpositionality.

Tom Petty was superpositional today.


Will he pick a fight with a survivor or a bereaved family member? He will make this worse.


Tom Petty was born in the panhandle of Florida and had a massive heart attack in Malibu. I cannot think of a more American sentence.


59 people were murdered and 527 injured at a country-music concert last night by a stranger with a machine gun. I thought of a more American sentence.

Two Reasons Why I Cry

Take today from my heart, O Lord, and replace it with any other day, Replace it with nothing and leave me timeless and adrift on the soft shoulder of an American highway. Just take today from my heart, O Lord, because it is broken and can no longer hold anything at all.

Thoughts On The Four-Hour Tom Petty Documentary On Netflix

  • I have not read Pushkin; I could have read Pushkin this afternoon, but instead I watched a dry recounting of the career of swamp rocker and his unattractive band.
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers do not have a Bobby: the drummer and the original bass player were horse-faces; Mike Campbell looks like a blurry copy of Brian May; the second bass player, Howie Klein, looked like a racist cartoon of a Jew.
  • And then there’s Tom: his face is a knife-edge, with flat cheeks and temples retreating from a sharp nose and chin.
  • It is a spectacular nose.
  • Tom Petty’s nose was first summited in 1979 by a German called Heinrich von Schlongenweis and three Sherpas whose names were not written down.
    • English producer smoking and drinking while telling stories about committing felonies.
    • Johnny Depp.
    • Keyboardist getting progressively balder.
    • Scarves.
    • Fight with the record company.
    • Tom’s first wife is not named, but there are multiple glamour shots of his new, younger, blonde, big-titted wife.
    • Everyone is wearing sunglasses indoors.
    • Dave Grohl.
    • The divorce record.
    • Several participants in a firing remember the firing differently.
  • Peter Bogdanovich directed this, which I did not know at the time; I’m glad, because I would have been picturing him sitting there in his stupid ascot and gotten annoyed.
  • (TotD distrusts all men who make a habit of non-standard neckwear. If you’re from New Mexico, you can wear a bolo tie, but otherwise it’s a straight tie for suits, a bow tie for tuxes, and that’s fucking it unless you’re a 70-year-old British aristocrat who solves crimes as a hobby. That guy? Lord Sniffingshire? He can rock the ascot. That’s fucking it.)
  • Jim Ladd, the deejay, was in it; I did not like that.
  • Not that he was particularly weird-looking.
  • It’s just that Jim Ladd’s voice comes out of my radio, not a person, and it was disconcerting to have his formerly super-positional appearance–he could’ve looked like anyone!–coalesce into a single visual point.
  • (I may be thinking about this too much.)
  • Speaking of radio: Tom Petty his own channel on the SiriusXM network (31, I think) and it might have the highest stay/leave ratio of any of my presets.
  • (Also up there: Outlaw Country and the Elvis Channel. Holy shit, do I love the Elvis Channel. Pulling up the rear: JamOn. Holy shit, is there never anything good on there.)
  • “Benmont Tench” sounds like a character from a Faulkner novel.
  • I also could have been reading Faulkner while I was watching a four-hour documentary about Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
  • Best Florida band, hands down: the less said about Molly Hatchett and .38 Special the better, and I sincerely prefer Pitbull to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Pitbull is Mr. Worldwide, and his songs are about everyone having a good time together, and also ladies’ asses.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd makes me want to pretend to be Christian until I’m safely out of whatever room I’m in.
  • Best career move they ever made was skipping the pre-flight check.
  • (Confession time: I love Pitbull, both in the way you might expect me to love him, and also sincerely. I like the whole thing he’s got with the short trousers and the slip-on loafers with no socks. He’s also a terrible rapper, which means I can rap along with him, which I cannot do with skilled rappers. Plus I once read an article about him that described him taking a meeting about investing in some companies, and the only thing Pitbull wanted to know about the companies was how disruptive they were going to be.
  • He clearly didn’t understand exactly what it meant, but that didn’t stop him from rephrasing the question five times in a row. “Are we talking a big disruption or a little one?” and “Does the disruption start immediately?” and “Disruption?”
  • I also find the shape of his skull appealing.)
  • Please don’t string parenthetical asides over multiple bullet points.
  • You’re not my father.
  • Stop talking about Pitbull’s head and get back to Tom Petty.
  • Leave now or I summon Elvis.
  • You can’t summon a character in the middle of bullet–




thwip thwip thwip thwip thwip

thwip thwip thwip thwip thwip



  • Did you just blowdart Elvis?
  • Eleven times
  • You know he’s gonna be pissed when he come to.
  • Your problem.
  • Or John Mayer’s.
  • Sure. Talk about Tom Petty.
  • Fine.
  • The Heartbreakers were (and are) a good live band, but not great: no great drummer, no great band.
  • Oddly, the documentary did not delve into Tom Petty’s role as “Tom Petty” in 1997’s Kevin Costner’s Il Postino.
  • (For the Younger Enthusiasts: Kevin Costner (Superman’s dad) was Hollywood’s biggest star for a minute after he made the movie about baseball and the other movie about Indians. In short succession, he followed these critical and financial hits with Waterworld and The Postman. The former was an entertaining-enough piece of schlock, but it cost (in today’s money) $280 million to make; The Postman, on the other hand, was expensive and awful. Once again, it was the post-apocalypse, and once again Kevin Costner played the plain-talkin’ messiah.
  • But whereas Waterworld had huge and impressive visuals–they built a giant floating citadel off the coast of Hawaii and flung jet-skis against it–The Postman was dreary and clichéd and brown and three goddamned hours long, and featured several lengthy scenes of Kevin Costner ambling in between towns while he talked to a donkey.
  • It’s also completely insane: The Postman is not an allusive title. Kevin Costner saves America via the power of regular parcel delivery. I can’t remember whether he was a mailman before the apocalypse or not, but he just decides one day to resume the mail service and people see him as the spirit of America or something. There’s also a bad guy.
  • And Tom Petty.
  • This is a post about Tom Petty.
  • Now, Tom Petty is a sly and funny man who has done some acting, but all his appearances previous to this film were playing himself. No problem! says Kevin Costner, and so The Postman posits a post-apocalypse where Tom Petty has lived through the apocalypse to become the mayor of a small settlement of survivors.
  • And, you know, no disrespect to Mr. Petty, but he’s not making it through the apocalypse. If any rock star is going to, it’s going to be Nugent. It pains me to say it, too, but you cannot disagree that the man is prepared to ride out the storm.)
  • What did I tell you about the parentheticals?
  • That they were getting divorced.
  • No, that’s the Parentheticals.
  • They seemed so happy.
  • From one perspective; from another, they looked sad.
  • Sure.
  • You done with Tom  Petty?
  • A little.
  • Go get a coffee and a breather, champ.
  • Yeah.
Older posts
%d bloggers like this: