The Bells' Toll on Rock 'n' Roll:
Love for a Heartbreaker not 'Petty'

Posted Oct. 6, 2006

“I keep crawling back to you”
—Tom Petty

Though it is not our intention to start any blasphemous rumors, it must be acknowledged that rock ‘n’ roll has become a religion of sorts in our books.

In the church of said rock ‘n’ roll, we preach the words of our favorite old-timers and reserve wholehearted “amens” for acclaimed musical gods.

To commemorate both Rocktober, a sacred month within our faith, and the birth of a heartbreaking prodigy, we dedicate our tiny corner of the paper to Tom Petty.

A legend of many universally meaningful words, he is somewhat of a king in the modern rock world and has a heart so big, he could crush this town.

It is no wonder why we keep crawling back to Petty, our self-proclaimed “main man.”

With a vast slew of platinum albums under his guitar strap and a plaque on the wall of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, he has yet to falter.

Let’s just say it; a Petty album is a constant source of reliability.


When lost in a world of tears and trouble, Petty serves as our flashlight.

We have learned that “it takes Rhino Skin to get to the end.”

When wondering how soon is now and clutching the crumbling peak of Hopeless

Mountain, Petty serves as our helping hand.

We have learned that the future is untold, and that fresh green grass growing under our well-traveled feet indicates the “Time to Move On.”

When questioning the fate of rock ‘n’ roll, Petty serves as our source of strength.

We have learned that the golden days of radio live in the heart of “The Last DJ.”

When homesick or heartsick, afraid that the “one” slipped away, Petty serves as our trusty sidekick.

We have learned that while dancing the relationship tango, love travels far, sometimes “Straight into Darkness.”

Petty functions as our personal Thomas Guide, dishing up a song for every possible scenario or emotion and directing us through life’s misadventures.

Seemingly a man of a million and one different relationships, Petty’s edgy voice tinged with sorrow and the ever-hopeful “what-if” of love became a constant companion long ago.

Ultimately providing a heavy-duty soundtrack to our lives, he has never let us down musically.

We could hold conversations uttering nothing but Petty lyrics and definitely would not survive a deserted island sojourn without “Wildflowers” or “Long After Dark” by our sunburned sides.

Still, it may be hard to understand why we love a man older than our father.

Perhaps our musical affair began with one glimpse of Petty’s wide, toothy grin in the “Alice in Wonderland” inspired video “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” which aired back when music was still an essential ingredient of MTV programming.

Or perhaps our unbreakable Petty love began when we were just tiny squirrels of 5.

The good ol’ days of Pirate radio come to mind, conjuring up images of car excursions and “Free Fallin’” sing-alongs in the backseat of our mom’s beige Datsun hatchback.

True at the time, the lyrics to the radio staple were misconstrued in our young minds, as we sang choruses of “sweet forest” at the top of our lungs while traveling to various destinations.

But as the years progressed, our musical tastes never swayed, only delving deeper into the Heartbreakers’ past.

Even we have wondered why we must make every Petty song ours, collecting album after album and, in fact, affording him many pairs of pants.

However, we know without speaking the words that the Florida-bred man, whose love for Elvis led him to rock stardom, has provided millions of fans with songs to learn and live by.

Petty has always embodied American rock ‘n’ roll and is seemingly more down to Mars than cliché would lead us to believe.

If we named 10 reasons why we loved him, they would all be song titles that speak for themselves in our ears.

In lieu of a birthday cake, here’s to you dearest Tom.

After all, it would most likely be difficult to sneak a cake laden with 56 rapidly melting candles past security en route to Florida.

So, Happy Birthday! We hope your day’s a diamond and not a rock.

Jessica Bell, a senior communications major, is web editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

Kady Bell, a senior communications major, is arts editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

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