Get lucky sometimes...
Thomas Earl Petty. I think it was the fact he was such an evident fan, that the music he loved was so obviously in the music he made, yet forged into something very much his own. Roger McGuinn of The Byrds is alleged to have heard American Girl and puzzled over the notion that he couldn't remember writing and recording the song.
But the merging of that Rickenbacker 12-string jangle with the raunch of the Stones, the harmonies of the Beatles, the mordant lyrical wit of Dylan, classic US garage rock and southern soul, brought us this astonishingly powerful 40-year career. And let's not forget - it was Britain where he broke through first. There was an initial aversion in the US to his spindly, too-pretty androgyny. It was only later that he was adopted as 'heartland' and there was always a distance, a suspicion.
Tough guy, too, taking on the music industry to the extent of declaring himself bankrupt to regain control of his material and his life. On the side of the victims and the poor. And for a fan, to join the Travelling Willburys, to back Dylan on the road, to sing with a Beatle...
Those songs. From the soaring emotional power of The Waiting and the desperate obduracy of Refugee to the whimsical cynicism of Into The Great Wide Open ("under the sky so blue...a rebel without a clue") and his LA masterpiece, Free Falling, he had a mystery and a vision that seemed effortless, but was the product of determination and sheer hard work. Yet he made Springsteen seem bludgeoning and occasionally lumbering.
Floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee.
I could go on and on. Instead, watch Peter Bogdanovich's superb 4-hour documentary Runnin' Down A Dream, the best rock biopic ever. It's on Netflix. Listen to the music.
Listen to your heart.