On Saturday, August 19th, the city of Seattle had the privilege of hosting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners. For those not familiar with Tom Petty, he was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and fell in love with Rock and Roll at the age of eleven when he met Elvis Presley in the early sixties. As the story goes, Petty’s uncle was working on a movie set in the Florida area in which Presley was starring. The exchange between the young Petty and twenty-something Presley was very brief but enough to spark inspiration in Petty. Petty went home that day and collected as many Elvis records that he could and started listening. He found the music captivating, which then lead him to follow other artists like Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. The British Invasion music phenomenon happened soon after and when he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, his passion to play music on stage was galvanized.
Over the course of forty years, Tom Petty has a ton of hit songs—to the point that you feel that everything he writes and plays is gold. Of those songs, “I Won’t Back Down” is one of my favorites and certainly resonates with many people. Here is an excerpt of the lyrics:
Well, I won't back down
No I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down
No I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
No I won't back down
The song’s inspiration unfortunately came from when an arsonist set fire to Petty’s home while he and his family were inside. Everyone escaped unharmed physically with just the clothes on their backs, but psychologically there was lasting damage. Three years later, Petty came back with the positive album Full Moon Fever where, in his words, he wanted something to express how happy he was simply to be alive.
When Petty wrote the song “I Won’t Back Down” (Track 2 of Full Moon Fever), the lyrics apparently came very quickly; however, he was concerned the words were too direct and bold. Getting encouragement from those around him, he continued with recording the song and it has thus become the one song Petty gets the most thanks for.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Petty acknowledged that he gets stopped on the street frequently and reached out to in restaurants or through mail by people openly expressing how much the song has helped them through difficult situations. And the same goes for me.
I have always liked the song “I Won’t Back Down”. The words are not complicated and they speak directly to your heart. And what are they saying? Keep going. Stay strong. Keep moving forward. Dig deep. Climb. Believe. Remain steadfast. And you will overcome the challenges you face and reach the pinnacles you deserve.
Interesting, I think I just described the characteristics embodied in our BILLY Footwear logo!