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Writing From Deep Within The Heart

Editor’s Note:
Music can heal us, tear us down, make us laugh, make us cry and sometimes make us feel things we didn’t know were there. What follows is a story written by someone I consider to have have the utmost respect for music and can’t help but be moved by it. Susan puts into words, what most of us would just stumble through… and I consider this to be a beautiful piece of emotion filled writing. She’s one of the few I’ve seen that do it well. I hope her writing allows some of you to remember what music was intended for. ~Ryan “Tank” Hargrave

the one where i talk about tom petty and pat green

by: Susan Turpin; originally posted on her blog at motelcowboy.tumblr.com

The mark of a great artist is their ability to take something and put an entirely different spin on it. I’ve been a fan of Tom Petty for a few years – typically, when I just want to listen to something but don’t have any particular artists or genre in mind, I put on his Anthology and, even after having listened to both discs more times than I care to admit, still enjoy every single minute of it. Pat Green, on the other hand, is an artist that had to grow on me. He found a great deal of success in Nashville when he made the transition to mainstream country and, for some petty reason, I slightly held that against him for a long time. About a year ago, however, he released an album called Songs We Wish We’d Written II, a pseudo-sequel to the 2001 album of almost the exact same name. SWWWWII (the shortened version of the album title, which isn’t really much shorter at all) is, as expected, an album contained entirely of songs not written by Pat Green – he covers Joe Ely, Jon Randall, and, of course, Tom Petty.

I’ve always felt an intense love for the song “Even the Losers”. In true Heartbreaker fashion, the song is upbeat with a certain feeling of hope, almost as if there’s an undertone of “better to have loved and lost” hidden somewhere underneath it all. There’s a general feel of everything working out in the end, because even the losers get lucky sometimes. In much of the early Heartbreakers material, there is a theme of raucousness – songs like “Anything That’s Rock ‘n Roll” and “I Need to Know” defined their place in the musical world. As time progressed, the band explored the musical stylings that solidified their presence in rock & roll greatness. Songs like “Free Fallin’” and “Learning to Fly” are songs that, even if they’re only separated from the loud rocking tunes by a few years, are the songs that we associate very strongly with the Heartbreakers sound. For me, however, “Even the Losers” is the be-all and end-all Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tune. It’s a fantastic combination of the carefree rock & roll attitude of their early material and the insightful storytelling of the later songs.

This is where Pat Green comes in. If you’re familiar with Pat Green, you know that, while he’s been known to do a slow song or two, for the most part, he sings songs about your typical country fare. There are plenty of songs about drinking, getting over heartbreak, and being as damn country as you can possibly be. He knows the formula and is a master at playing the part. Imagine my surprise when I was driving home late one night from a friend’s house and heard the distinctive lyrics begin a song I hadn’t heard before.

It was a late November evening in 2012. My divorce had been finalized less a month prior and I had been heavily listening to the music that had defined my relationship with my ex-husband – honeyhoney’s “David”, Reckless Kelly’s “Wicked Twisted Road”, and other songs of love and loss. It was part of my grieving process that was allowing me to move on with my life, one song at a time. I was driving down Ocean Drive, taking the long way home to get a little more time to myself. The drive down Ocean is just that – the road runs parallel to Corpus Christi Bay, allowing for a view of the Harbor Bridge and beyond on a particularly clear night. The moon shines and bounces off the bay, allowing for some deep, introspective thought if the mind deems it necessary.

Well, it was nearly summer
And we sat on your roof
While we smoked cigarettes
And we stared at the moon
And I showed you stars you never could see
Baby, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

My breath stopped. What was I hearing? This wasn’t the Tom Petty song I was accustomed to hearing. The piano playing beneath the melody was in time with the beat of my heart. As the strings joined in a swell, I suddenly heard the song in a way I’d never heard before. Suddenly, I heard the sadness that was there in the song all along.

Baby, even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes…

The few lines of the chorus sounded far more haunting than I’d ever heard. Green’s version of the song was filled with a bittersweet mixture of seemingly infinite heartache and excessive sentimental yearning for the distinct sense of completeness we all seem to desire. It isn’t until you’ve been in a position of nostalgia that you can really relate on a deep emotional level.

As I pulled up to a stoplight, the song finished. Deep, soul-shaking sobs overtook me as I listened to the final lines of the song. It was part of my mourning, my grieving – all of the anguish I’d felt over the past few months came spilling out of me and there was no stopping it. I was essentially unprepared for it due to my constant denial of my depression. At that point, though, there was no denying it any further. I’d finally begun the cathartic process of properly accepting that a chapter of my life that should’ve lasted longer was over. Even a year later, I’m still picking up the pieces and looking for the person I was before the immense whirlwind of the previous 3 years.

One thing that gives me hope is the thought that one day, I’ll be OK. I’ll be content. To me, there’s a distinct difference between being happy and being content – being truly content comes from within yourself, no matter how you decide to achieve it. It’s a hassle in the meantime, but the payoff is great.

Like every word you said was meant to be
Baby, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me…

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