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Tom Petty, 1950–2017

He had me at Refugee.

I would have been a freshman in high school. Just starting to play guitar myself.

I'd heard a couple of others, but Refugee was the first song by the Heartbreakers that really spoke to me. First of all, it had that sound. That heady mix of cranked-but-not-metal guitars and Hammond B-3 organ. For me, that's a combination that just can't be beat. It's the very best sound in rock and roll. The perfect combination.

Then there's Petty's voice in that song. Nasally, menacing, and cool, all at the same time.

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some.
I love the way he fit what seems like to too many words into too little space, and somehow it worked perfectly with the simmering tone of the song. And when the chorus hits, Petty showed some real balls and range.

Just perfect.

Rufugee's lyrics were a little abstract, open to interpretation. I always thought it was about emotional pain holding people back in a relationship. But…

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