The Impact of Tom Petty’s Legacy on Local Lives

Paige Lesko

Music has always been a large part of my life. This may have been from my parents introducing me to it at such a young age. As a child, music was always ringing through the halls of my Greensburg home, and my parents were always singing along. We would laugh and dance for hours as a family and my sister and I would ask, “Who is singing now, dad?” One of these musicians happen to be rock legend, Tom Petty. With my dad growing up in the 50s and 60s, his music taste was exquisite. He had grown up with the Beatles and Bee Gees where he acquired a taste for talent.

When my dad played music, it was good music. One day, a song came on that made him very excited and I could tell the song had an impact on him. I never asked him why he liked the song because it was easy to see that the song was good music. All throughout my years at home, I’ve heard many of Petty’s albums, but “Free fallin’” is a song that I’ve always felt a connection to. I later found out that “Free fallin’” was the song that my dad had enjoyed and was the first Tom Petty song I ever heard. The song has always seemed to bring my family together, as my dad and I sing it to the top of our lungs every time we hear it.

Last spring, I went on a college visit to Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. At the time, the school was my top choice and I was pretty much set on attending. My boyfriend and I had the opportunity to visit together and attend one of the college’s performances. A group of students with a guitarist, drummer, and vocalist took the stage. When I heard the first couple of chords, a smile stretched across my face. The band performed a rendition of Petty’s masterpiece, “Free Fallin’” almost as good as the original. A wave of comfort washed over me, and I knew that this was the place for me. After the performance, my boyfriend turned to me and said, “That was a great song.” I chuckled a bit and smiled back.

If a musician can bring people together and make them feel something with their music, that artist has the power to change the world. That is certainly what Tom Petty has achieved through his career. His legacy continues to make the world a better place by spreading authenticity through his work. No one is forgotten that touched the lives of others.