Yesterday in Las Vegas, thousands of people gathered to do nothing more than have a good time and enjoy themselves. I started off as a fan of music, and ended up being a good enough musicisn to know that I just wasn’t quite good enough. Still, I’ve been on both sides of it and the fun and energy of being in the crowd is nowhere near the cathartic release of being the one providing that catharsis to others.
And then it rained death.
At a concert we are all fans. It doesn’t matter who we are – we are united in our love of a common experience. We empathized with this shooting because we all know “that could be us.”
Then came another loss.
A few minutes ago, I learned that Tom Petty had a heart attack. And just a couple of minutes after that that Tom Petty was dead. I remember seeing him perform on the Last DJ Tour at the Forum in Los Angeles. Jim Ladd introduced him, and he was on top of things that night. As much as he did go into some political moments – this was in 2002 – there were no boos or anything other than joy.
Except for me it was the most touching thing I’d ever seen in a show. George Harrison had died a few months previously and Petty and George were friends. He honored Harrison by performing my favorite Harrisong – “Isn’t it a Pity?”
Some things take so long but how do I explain?
There are too many people who can’t see we’re all the same
And because of all the tears their minds can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t is a pity?
That moment was my favorite ever concert moment. (Second favorite moment? A tie between Willie Nelson and Ray Charles doing a duet of “Georgia on my Mind” and night 2 of the Eagles Hell Freezes Over Tour in Irvine Meadows – after playing “Heart of the Matter” Don Henley announced, “We just figured this out. That’s why we’re here.”)
Music can and usually does bring people together. Sure, some forms certainly do have target markets. Country music fans are typically viewed with a certain stereotype.
But I assure you, I’ve seen Tom Petty and dug him almost as much as Willie Nelson. Billy Joel was the best concert I ever saw, but I never had more fun (okay, musically more fun. Skydiving beat even that) than playing some heavy metal. I fancied myself as a blues purist – and JJ will ALWAYS be missed – I found that the crowds were always doing the same thing. Just having a good time and forgetting about the shit that is sometimes life for a few hours.
Tom Petty was an icon and was struck down. The crowd is a musical icon and was struck down. And Harrison lamented what a pity it was.
Doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Get out and enjoy with nothing more in common with the everyone else except you enjoy.