I’ll Stand My Ground

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

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

It’s been a while…I know, I know. But when Tom Petty passed (almost exactly a year ago) it really took a lot of wind out of my sails. He was not my all-time favorite rock artist, but he was definitely one of them. I think my need for a sabbatical of sorts, was really just from the cumulative weight of all the recent rocker exits. Prince, Glen Frey, David Bowie, the list goes on and on. Writing about the classic rockers was starting to feel a little grim. More like writing obituaries than fun filled musings on our rock heroes and the inner meanings of the songs they gave us. I needed a break.

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

So, it’s been a year. And, a lot has happened. Some good, some bad, but always life, sweet life. Lots of changes and reflecting on those changes. One of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer; tumors located in the brain and lungs. He suffered and battled through surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and an immunotherapy drug trial that nearly killed him. Another friend from my record biz days, a super sweet lady was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and she’s battling it still. Both are fighting and surviving and, in the face of it, are relishing every day, and every moment within.

And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

This is not intended to be a post about sorrow or sadness; it’s a post about strength and faith and survival. It’s a post about triumph and living life every day with passion, intent and purpose.  Why? Well, because back on May 3rd of this year, I walked out to my truck on a shiny late spring morning to go to a meeting. As I turned my back to put my things in the back seat, a young man ran up behind me, grabbed me around the neck, reached around and stabbed me in the chest. Not exactly what you expect to happen on a routine day in a good neighborhood! But after the initial shock, adrenaline kicked in and, fortunately, I was able to fight him off and chase him away. And, since I was standing there with my keys in my hand (blood gushing). I decided it was gonna be faster to just drive myself to the hospital (it was only 2 miles away) than call for an ambulance.  Not too smart, I was later informed.

Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)

But, all’s well that ends well. I was a very lucky man; I didn’t suffer any damage to heart or lungs, so they cleaned up the wound , stitched me up and I drove back home later that afternoon. Here’s the funny thing: my sweetheart had given me a new necklace for my birthday, just a few days earlier. It was a cross with my favorite scripture verse inscribed on the back.  That’s right, good ol’ Philippians 4:13.  And yes, I just so happened to be wearing it that day.

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)

So, we can celebrate the life of Tom Petty, one year gone by. He’s no longer here but his music lives on inside us all.  “I Won’t Back Down” was Tom’s ode to courage and strength in the face of a tragedy that had occurred in his life, just before he recorded the album Full Moon Fever. An arsonist had burned down his house while he was inside with his family and housekeeper. The arsonist was never caught and the life threatening experience clearly affected his life and his family.

According to an article in Songfacts, “I Won’t Back Down” was his way of reclaiming his life and getting past the torment – he said that writing and recording the song had a calming effect on him.

Here’s a few fun facts about the song:

  • This was Petty’s first single without the Heartbreakers credited as his backing band.
  • It was one of four songs Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in 2008.
  • George W. Bush used this in his 2000 Presidential campaign. When Petty found out, he threatened to sue, as he did not support Bush.
  • In a 2006 interview with Harp, he said, “That song frightened me when I wrote it. I didn’t embrace it at all. It’s so obvious. I thought it wasn’t that good because it was so naked.

This song has always been one of my favorites by TP and he once said it was the song more people asked him about than any other. I think it’s because it summons up the fighting spirit inside us all and reminds us that, when life is at it’s toughest and it seems like we’re gonna get beat, we just have to stand our ground. And, never, ever back down.

Listen and enjoy…


Songfacts: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/tom-petty/i-wont-back-down

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Petty