Master of Melody
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Starting off like any other game day fans poured into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by the tens of thousands to cheer on their Florida Gators, a sea of blue and orange showing the world just whose house they were in. But the ordinary day would not become extraordinary from a play on the field or a call from a ref. No, the magic of this day would be created by the spectators themselves.
With just minutes before the start of the fourth and final quarter of the game speakers all over the stadium came to life with a rhythmic beat and open guitar chord intermingling like bees and honey, just about every soul recognizing it for the classic it is even before that storytelling voice kicked in. But when it did hearts began to rise and sink simultaneously, the master of melody they had known for so long, a soundtrack to so many chapters in their lives thanks to his ability to transcend both generations and genre.
Tom Petty, the city of Gainesville’s most melodic son, who they along with the rest of the world had lost just days before due to cardiac arrest, all joining together 90,0000 strong to remember, to honor, to rejoice in his memory as they all began to sing along.
He had taught us that we don’t always know how others feel, how to free fall, how to appreciate the great wide open under the skies of blue, have one last dance with Mary Jane and the fact that even walls fall down. But perhaps the most important thing he planted with his seeds of infectious thought-provoking tunefulness was that we should never back down, the unity of this massive crowd singing out in both loss and celebration, some of which couldn’t help but shed tears as they did so, for losing this master of melodic storytelling was indeed like losing a family member, yelling out in chorus through blurred eyes and risen hands as if to say ‘we love you, we thank you, we already miss you.’
A day at a ball game becoming a spiritual experience that would echo throughout the world. never to be forgotten like the man himself.