While His Guitar Gently Weeps

Sue Kemple (CEO)

I was never much of a Tom Petty fan. I appreciated his immense talent, but for whatever reason, I was just never drawn to his music, his unique sound.

My brother was, though. He was a huge fan, had several of his albums. Vinyl records, of course, part of the collection we all went through when Matt died back in 1991.

Going through the belongings of a loved one who has died can be a tough exercise. But there is something about going through someone’s music that’s different; that’s pretty much the premise that drives My Last Soundtrack, too. It’s deeper, more meaningful. The songs that one loves can say a lot about them. Music tells the story of a life and is a kind of bridge between life and death, a uniquely divine experience here on Earth.

No one would agree more than Tom Petty himself.

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life,” Petty once said. “There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

Petty’s 1989 album Full Moon Fever turned out to be a healer for us. In the months and years after Matt died, I can remember pulling up to Mom’s house and hearing the album blasting while she was cleaning. If I heard Tom Petty on the car radio, I would blast it, too – even though I technically “didn’t like it.” There was something about those songs that brought Matt to mind, reminded us of who he was, what he loved. To this day, I can’t hear Free Fallin’ without thinking of him, and hearing him sing it.

Tom Petty died yesterday, at a time when – between this nation’s racial strife, nuclear war tensions, hurricanes, and now the worst mass shooting in US history – there is so much sorrow, grief, and need for healing in our world. Not his song in this clip, but a legendary performance of his and the late Prince that bridges the gap between life and death.

May he rest in musical peace.

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