Tom Petty, 1950-2017

Depending on when and where you grew up, Tom Petty dying feels like America dying. While it’s easy to talk about what someone like Bowie or Prince meant because of the ground they broke and the perceptions they challenged, Petty was always just there, using the standard formula of rock as the foundation for a body of work that almost everyone had at least one or two favorites from. You never listened to Tom Petty and felt bad. Even the sad songs brought grace. (Of course, there was always more going on: These thoughts on the Confederate flag are a necessary read and probably will be for a long time, unfortunately.) Even when he was on the surface there was something also floating below the surface, and that is probably no small part of what made him so successful. Tom Petty was 66.