Wednesday Flashback-Damn the Torpedoes

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
When Wednesday Flashback was first suggested several albums went through my mind. First and foremost, I’m a girl, so one of the first albums I thought of that really impacted me when I was younger was Carole King’s Tapestry. I was fourteen, she was the first woman who created an entire album of songs I would actually listen to and she made us all want to be “natural women”. Still, it was an easy pick. And one that had a rather short lasting influence. (And for anyone still stuck on the 'girl' reference, women always have a little bit of the girl they were in them, no matter how old they are. The men in our lives will be happier if they remember that.)

So it was that I came to an album that really just blew me away when I first heard it and has resonated with me ever since. And that would be Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

In 1981 I was a little lost musically. I was listening to leftover disco, mostly the beginnings of what became hip hop soul music in the 90’s, and some m.o.r. rock. I felt a little too grown up to be listening to the harder rock of my youth and hadn’t yet discovered what would become the foundation of all the music I’ve loved since then.

It was Madpoet who walked into my life on New Years Day 1982 and brought with him Rush, Springsteen and Tom Petty. When he first looked through my albums (yes actual albums) at the time he thought the only thing I owned that had any redeeming value was an album by Madness. I am convinced to this day had he not found the Madness album, and a leftover sandwich (How I Met Your Mother reference), he would have found me a lost cause. But he stayed, and he sat me down , put on those mega headphones we used to have and put on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mind. Blown. I know I fell a little in love right then and there. With Tom. And Madpoet.

I had only heard of Petty from his duet with Stevie Nicks, which, at the time, I found irritating to listen to. (I had no musical taste at the time, I love that song now). From the smooth rhythm of “Here Comes my Girl” to the rockabilly of “Century City” this album seeped into my soul and touched a chord in me that told me I was not a leftover disco girl after all. What I wanted was to be a girl that someone would sing “Breakdown” to.

Any time I feel the years creeping up on me, all I have to do is listen to Tom Petty and I’m tapped into that girl. Tom’s girl. Bruce’s girl. Madpoet’s girl.

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