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The Proud Pain of Tom Petty

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Interesting and somewhat thought provoking (if slightly disturbing) read. Thanks for posting! 

I don't think TP is to blame at all for the various strands of his following. (Speaking of Bruce Springsteen, anyone familiar with what some people made of "Born in the USA", will surely see the error in letting elements of the audience define the meaning of an artist's work.)

Although, as always, TP getting his live act stuck in a stale nostalgia pose, surely doesn't help the particular issues discussed in the articles and the feelings evoked in its author. It's inevitable.

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From the end of the article:

Tom Petty’s music, so adept at bringing pleasure to so many people across so many years, had become a cultural signifier for the national moment in a way I felt quite sure he never imagined or intended. The powerful, angry songs had made Petty an accidental bard of white resentment. There, in Baltimore, he was making American Grievance Rock.

---For me, (and many others) Tom's music has aimed at the universal feelings of being human, love, hate, dreams, fears, regrets, hopes.  Even his most critical album, the Last Dj is rallying against greed while championing the purity of musical expression in what was (Like a Diamond/Dreamville) and what could still be (Can't Stop the Sun). It's a well written article but I don't see the "white grievance" angle. 


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With a writer like Petty who is deliberately ambiguous in his songs, there's always a chance that they'll be misheard and oversimplified.  I find Petty's lyrics to be inspiringly self-critical: angry, but also honest about how his own failures and limitations have led him to his discontentment.  White rage (especially what we saw today) lays the blame completely outwardly-- they're victims.  What makes Petty's music so great is that he doesn't settle for victimhood-- he searches for resolution and transcendence.  And that's why I'm seeing him twice next week. :)

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