Arguably one of the most iconic and recognizable names in music history, rock n’ roll artist Tom Petty’s passing left a void of sadness amongst his fan base, many of whom had been listening to the music legend’s hits for decades. Petty will go down in history as one of the most inspiring and talented musicians of our time, but for many, his legacy is far greater than his hits, and lies in the way he inspired millions to find their passion and live life to the fullest.
One of the most admirable qualities about Mr. Petty was his undeniable passion for how he wanted to live his life. He both refused to be isolated by his fame and stardom and simultaneously accepted and embraced his age as he grew older, incorporating new themes and messages into his music that inspired millions. His ability and dedication to creating incredible music throughout the entire course of his life has made Petty more than just a music icon, but a timeless legend who refused to be characterized or cast aside because of his age.
“I’m really conscious of wasting time,” said Petty in 2006, “It’s funny when you realize there are time limits. I’m impatient now with anything that gets in the way of what I want to do. I want to get everything down. Why would I want to do anything else? Rock ‘n’ roll is such a good job.”
Petty truly wove his passion for music and rock n’ roll into everything that he did. He lived every moment of his life to the fullest, and left this life with plans to continue making music. In one of his final interviews, he said: “If I don’t have a project going, I don’t feel like I’m connected to anything. I don’t even think it’s that healthy for me. I like to get out of bed and have a purpose.”
Petty’s music has secured him a spot in the Hall of Fame of rock legends, both literally and figuratively. It was his intrinsic talent for making music and being able to apply it to ordinary struggles that helped him to stand out as a musician, but in our opinion, what really made him unique was his determination to continue to stay relevant in the industry, while still staying true to his longevity.
We might not all be able to fully live up to the “Rock Star” lifestyle, but there are plenty of aspects of Petty’s philosophy on life that are more than within our reach.
1. Spend time with your family.
Petty spent his life on the road touring and selling out concert venues, but one thing he credited to his life truly being fulfilling was his commitment to always make time for his family. While he loved touring, he welcomed his ability to rest and spend time with his family. Of his wife of 16 years, Dana York, Petty credited their strong bond and teamwork as one of his reasons for success. Before his death, Petty said in an interview that he was planning to spend more time with Dana and his children. In the end, your family will always be there. As a parent, you may have watched your children grow, and they have seen you grow as well. Cherish that time that you have to share with them.
2. Take care of your health.
While Petty recognized in an interview that towards the end of their 60’s many people were retiring, he stressed that during that time more than ever it was important to take care of both his physical and mental health. In an interview on USA Today, Petty opened up about his past struggles with depression. He cited feelings of sadness and loneliness, and admitted it took time to get himself out of the rut. In another interview, Petty also stressed the importance of keeping up with his physical health on tour.
For Petty, the main aspects of staying physically healthy consisted of getting enough sleep, eating right, and maintaining some level of physical activity, along with not abusing his voice. However, these fundamental principles of taking care of yourself as you grow older are applicable to more than just rock stars. By being mindful about your health, you can set yourself up for the rest of your life spending it how you want to spend it.
3. Stay true to your values.
It is no secret that in the music industry, there are tons of factors that make it seem impossible for musicians to truly be themselves. When faced with pressure from agents, fans and critics, it would be easy for some stars to lose sight of what really made them start performing in the first place. Tom Petty refused to give up on his convictions. Instead, he chose to continue to perform because he loved what he was doing, and he wanted to let his audience know he loved it too. In an interview with Esquire in 2006, Petty said:
“ If you’re phony, they will feel it in the farthest row of the arena. You have to really care. And you have to make yourself care time and time again.”
That’s just it. Life is too short to try and please everyone, and chances are, you won’t. Take time to think about your goals and values, and use those to channel your energy into how you want to live your life.
4. Pursue what sets your soul on fire.
This is personally one of my favorite mantras, because it can be applied to anyone, in any stage of life. When society is tugging us in different directions and trying to dictate how we should spend our time, there comes a time to gauge how worthwhile those pursuits are. Petty said it best. You’ve got to care, and really care. Take that trip you’ve been dreaming about your whole life. Tell your loved ones that you love them and hug them until they beg you to let go. Cross that item off your bucket list. As Petty said, “Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.”
Sure, we might not all able lead the same rock and roll lifestyle that Petty did. But, by taking a few pages from his playbook and living life to the fullest, we can all be rockstars to our own extent, no matter our “stage” in life.
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Whether you are an avid TWE reader or first time downloader, a member of the iGeneration or on the brink of retirement, my hope is that through this eBook you can discover what matters most to you in life and and time to appreciate it all.