It's winter here at the Hobo Camp and the temperatures keep plummeting, so what better way to pass the time than to curl up by the bonfire and read some poetry? We've got a bunch in this issue, as well as some reviews and interviews, and a large portion of the issue is dedicated to a favorite of ours here at the camp, the late great Mr. Tom Petty.
Personally, he's been my favorite musician since I became interested in music, around the time when my father started sending me mix cassettes at the end of elementary school, starting with his album Full Moon Fever. Something about Tom's simple, direct, and honest storytelling felt so comforting and accessible. I felt I knew exactly what he was getting at with each song, and he seemed to know exactly how I felt whenever I fell in or out of love, stumbled in life, or found a peaceful stretch of road where I could just breathe again and be myself. It's cliched to say he was the soundtrack to my life, but every album and song is attached to a specific memory, place, or time, and not having him around creates a void that won't be filled anytime soon, probably never.
People say Tom Petty played Southern, or Heartland, or Byrds-inspired California rock, and all of those are true, but he went beyond those labels and never quite fit a single mold. A small town kid with eyes on big city life out west, he went from jamming in bell bottoms to wearing leather jackets and carrying a switchblade, playing bluesy songs that only really broke through in the UK before loud, guitar-driven hits like "I Need To Know" and "Refuge" came out at the height of disco, flashing a massive middle finger to whatever garbage they were playing on the radio. He always evolved while standing his ground, whether he was donning that big Mad Hatter top hat and wacky sunglasses, or later on in a western jacket with fringe and cowboy boots, with mutton chops or a beard, finally wearing long flowing scarves, wide-brimmed hats, vests and sixties accessories as he explored his jam/blues roots in the last years of his life.
The idea of rock and roll is ever-changing, and so was Tom, and they weren't always in alignment. He never really ran with the mainstream crowd of the times, and yet, can you find many (or any) people of any age who say they truly hate Tom Petty's music? He held tighter to his principles than most throughout his career, and he never quite gave in to the easy commercialism he could have chased, even fighting and suing record companies to lower prices of his albums. Who does that?
As he sang in "The Last DJ," "You can't turn him into a company man, you can't turn him into a whore." That was Tom Petty, doing what he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, regardless of record companies, charts, or trends. And even though he may have fallen out of Top 40 radio rotation over the last decade or so, his last album in 2014 charted at #1 on its release, and the month he died, 7 of the top 10 bestselling albums on iTunes were Tom Petty.
People understood Tom's music, because Tom's music was about and for the people. This issue is dedicated to his memory, and we hope you enjoy the little tribute section we have for you.
Thanks for stopping by, and we'll see you down the road...