How? With a game, of course:
The practical ontology of Tom Petty.
You can play along if you like. The game is simple: The Tom Petty song that matters to you most is the one you have sung the most. Not listened to. Not rhapsodized to others. The song you have actually sung the most times – along with the radio, in the shower, all alone with your best-beloved. Which one won’t your heart keep quiet about? That’s the one that matters.
This is it for me, “The Waiting.” It’s an endless shaling for the full-on storgic love of a fulfilled family life, and I love every piece of that. Big blue balls, like all good rock ’n’ roll, but it’s love, marriage, family and hanging-in-there, all of that – good love for a good father.
And that’s the way I love it: I sang it every night as a lullaby to my children. I still sing it that way, when I am lucky enough to have a snoozy kid in my arms. I sing it to Cathleen, too, because The Waiting’s balls are even bluer than Pretty-Pretty-Pretty-Pretty-Peggy-Sue’s, but it’s always been a song about the whole family for me, not just the baby-making business.
So that’s mine. You have to figure out what’s yours. You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to, and you cannot hope to hide yourself once you have revealed what your ever-secreted self can’t shut up about.
But it pays you to answer the question, anyway: Which Tom Petty song sings loudest from you? Work out that simple little bit of practical ontology and you will have learned something important about yourself.
I don’t believe in heaven except for poets. I know the good ones are never all the way dead, because we can never manage to shut them up. We are most enriched by minds we can never repay – but they will have our attention regardless.
Every day you see one more card.
Every day you move one more yard.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.
Thanks for waiting, Tom. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for being there all those years. Thanks for being here from now on…