The Friday Morning Listen: Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994)

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What a week. Sort of dreamlike. It started with an early morning, five-hour drive through the rain on Monday (which initiated the dream thing). Then I got even more heavily involved in the new Wilco CD than I did last week. You wouldn’t think that this would add to the dream state but what sometimes happens with me is that, when I like a chunk of music a lot, it feels like I’ve heard it forever. Intellectually, I know this isn’t true. Emotionally? Well, it’s a little disorienting.

And then Steve Jobs died. Enough has been said about the man already. I don’t have any sweeping statements to make about either technology or Apple’s role in it…except to say that I’ve always admired Jobs’ single-mindedness of purpose and how he applied it to the products that his company put out there. That line from from the Stanford commencement speech that Jobs gave in 2005 is instructive: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

If only more people were in the position to be that proactive. To be able to take that much control over the direction of their lives. This is a point that some folks completely miss. Take your average misbehaving celebrity or sports star. They get so used to doing whatever they please that when something goes wrong, their pathetic reactions can be almost childlike.

Last night I was listening to Tom Petty take questions from a live audience during his Sirius/XM radio show Buried Treasure. Now here’s a guy with a ton of accomplishments. The roster of people he’s played with is beyond impressive. His discography contains a ton of great songs. And he’s one of the most humble and down to earth people I’ve ever heard. He marveled at his good luck and seemed truly grateful for his level of success.

It’s too bad that that kind of perspective can’t be transferred into arenas such as politics. People are just so certain that they know why this or that solution will or won’t work…or that a certain person’s (or group’s) motivations are so obviously suspect. There’s zero empathy and zero concern for extenuating circumstances. What seems to matter most is being “right.”

None of this is to imply that I wish Jobs had gone into politics. No, the results of his drive and focus have had far greater impacts on society than any of our current short-sighted political “leaders.” And maybe that’s as it should be. There are a lot of people out there who want “less government.” These days, that’s pretty much what they’re getting.

Thanks Mr. Jobs. It was a great dream.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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