Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Learning to fly

Saturday was one of the highlights of my summer, as myself, my brother, my better half of this blog and my better half in real life went to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Pittsburgh.

Absolutely. Fantastic. Time.

The day exceeded expectations in every category. The traffic, usually a soul-crushing, schedule-destroying terror for concerts at this particular venue, was a breeze. The tailgating was tremendous: no grill this time, but we brought fried chicken, cole slaw, chips and french onion dip, all washed down with lots and lots of beer. The conversation was light and fun, yet inspired and honest at the same time. The heat was dreadful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, and then came the concert. We skipped the first band, The Drive By Truckers or something (???); they sounded very Americana, but somewhat watered down like many modern country acts. I could be way off here, mind you. Then Sir Petty (yes, I realize he has not been officially knighted but dammit maybe he should be) hit the stage with an earnest, driving set that was deemed “nearly perfect,” although I still say he could have played a hair longer.

There was, however, one thing that was unmistakably imperfect: a slight screw-up coming right out of the box. As the band went to ring out the first note of the night, someone came in too early, someone else came in too late and someone else didn’t come in at all. The band immediately cut the botched note off, regrouped and struck the chord in unison, beginning the show the way rock titans should.

But there it was, plain for all to hear. This iconic band, these gods among men, messed up their intro. It wasn’t colossal… it was barely noticeable in fact. But it happened, and we all heard it.

And it was awesome.

In an extremely poetic way, it was truly ironic. Here’s Tom Petty – the man. At that point, I related to his words and music even more than ever before, because those words and notes were being communicated by a mere mortal, not a myth or legend or deity. This is a man who falls short, who’s worked hard to get where he is, who can laugh at his mistakes.

For some people, I think seeing a hero slip can be a crushing experience, but I guess I’m at the point where my personal heroes need to be human and real. It’s a great feeling.

Now go pick up the new album “Mojo” and then Ride with us at 4 p.m.


  1. You should have seen Drive-By Truckers. They are more juiced up southern rock than Americana. So was Petty fat and bearded like on Saturday Night Live?

  2. Ooooh! Taking shots at my man... That's ok. I didn't think Petty was fat and I actually lost a bet since he was, in fact, sans beard. Then again, my view from the top of the lawn wasn't exactly the best place to be to catch the minutia.