Here Are Some of Tom Petty's Thoughts on Life and Death

Tom Petty was an American hero and a national treasure.

Whether it’s his extensive catalog of hit songs, his 16 albums—both with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist—or his work as a producer and songwriter for other artists, he was one of the greatest of all-time.

"There's so many painful things that we all go through in life," Petty told The National in 2014 when talking about his song "Leave the Past Behind." "And they become...a load that you carry around. I think it's about forgiveness maybe. Part of learning how to be a good person and how to be happy."

In an interview for George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Petty recalled what George Harrison told him about death, following the passing of their Traveling Wilburys bandmate Roy Orbison.

“He said, ‘He’ll be okay. He’ll be okay. He’s still around. Just listen, he’s still around,’” Petty chokes up quoting Harrison. “And that was all he had to say about it, you know.”

What Petty took away from Harrison’s words, he doesn’t explicitly state. But Petty, who inducted Harrison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, often said that Harrison was like a big brother to him.

In his memoir, Runnin’ Down a Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty expressed gratitude at how he was able to follow his musical dreams, and the songwriting legend acknowledged how important it is to be open to learning.

Much of what we can interpret about Petty’s thoughts on death come from his lyrics, which mostly deal with the importance of living in the moment and enjoying life while you can.


“I Won’t Back Down”

“I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around. But I stand my ground and I won’t back down.”

 

"Mary Jane's Last Dance"

"You never slow down, you never grow old, I'm tired of screwing up, I'm tired of goin' down."

 

“All You Can Carry”

“Take what you can, all you can carry. Take what you can and leave the past behind.”

 

“Learning to Fly”

“I’m learning to fly around the clouds but what goes up must come down. I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings, coming down is the hardest thing.”

 

“Time to Move On”

“What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing but under my feet, baby, grass is growing.”

 

Petty’s death comes about a week after he completed the 40th anniversary tour of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

This past weekend, Petty shared a heartfelt thank you to his fans with a video posted to social media.


Photo: Getty Images

 
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