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We live in very divisive times. Thanks to hot button social issues, politics and social media amplifying everything, it seems like we're usually arguing about something. Thankfully, music, sports and entertainment all still have the ability to bring us together, especially after a tragedy. On October 1st, almost 500 people were injured in a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas during a Jason Aldean concert. Not long after, in an unfortunate and unrelated event, music legend Tom Petty passed away. So, it was fitting last night that legendary late night program Saturday Night Live opened with Jason Aldean covering Tom Petty's classic and particularly fitting "I Won't Back Down".
You can check out the video below...
Tom Petty was a unifier. He may have been willing to speak out on various issues, but his music really cut through different social classes, different generations, different genders and different races. I'm not sure there are many adult human beings living in the Western World who weren't at least familiar with a Tom Petty song or two. From "Free Fallin" to "The Waiting" to, of course, "I Won't Back Down", his music was arguably more acceptable to a wider range of Americans than any other musical act this side of the Beatles. And believe me, that's a compliment. Petty had his share of super fans (especially among musicians), of course, but to be listened to and at least given a mild thumbs up by practically everyone is beyond impressive.
The performance in question was obviously a big moment for Jason Aldean, as well. He did nothing wrong whatsoever, nothing to ask for the massacre that unfolded while he was playing in Las Vegas. It seems to have definitely been random. But it's hard to imagine there aren't some really confusing and unfortunate feelings he'll be carrying with him for years to come as a result of the tragedy. So, walking out on Saturday Night Live and singing "I Won't Back Down" as a cue to his fans and everyone watching that he'll keep on keeping on is a really powerful message too.
The Saturday Night Live performance was a mix of many different emotions, which is why it's probably not fitting to call it a Tom Petty tribute. Over in Tom Petty's hometown of Gainesville, Florida, however, fans offered the singer a straight up tribute yesterday, as thousands all sang along to "I Won't Back Down" in one of the coolest moments I've ever seen in a football stadium. You can check out out this video below...
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the Las Vegas shooting, as well as Tom Petty fans the world over. It's been an awful week. Here's to hoping this next one gets better.