January 20, 2008 As I approached Los Angeles my lazy Sunday desert drive became a video arcade of wide lanes, fast cars, and bright lights. I had no smartphone, no wifi, no GPS, but I did have a Motel 6 directory and I called every location. The whole town was booked. Not knowing where to turn I continued up 101, high on hope, and I waited for my sign. "Magical things happen in LA," I thought. "Tom Petty lives here."
Most of you know Tom Petty was/is/forever will be my hero. More than a hero, his voice has been that of a rock-and-roll-surrogate-angel-father guiding me through adolescence (and it's all adolescence). I don't know if his music saved my life but something close to it. It gave me life. I was only five-years-old when I first heard Full Moon Fever but dreams are timeless and in those songs I heard my own. A fuse ignited, coiling all the way from that small Vermont town to the City of Angels....
Vermont Avenue - there was my sign. I exited and followed Vermont Avenue to a fluorescent Travelodge, the office windows fogged-up and ominous under the full moon. They had a room, but for an outrageous $85/night - more than I'd made on tour so far, and a lot less than I'd lost. I hesitated and turned to leave. Where could I go? Beside my foot a familiar face stared up from the current LA Weekly cover story, "A Sound Map of Tom Petty's Los Angeles.”
I tucked the paper under my arm, handed over my credit card, and filled in the plate information. On the way upstairs I spooked a mouse and bolted myself inside as a roach skittered into the bathroom. Flipping open Tom’s map, the only map I had of Los Angeles, I scanned record labels, studios, venues... and then, "Travelodge: Petty lived at the Travelodge with his wife while recording the first album. His daughter was born just after they moved to L.A., and while living at the hotel they put her in a drawer as a crib. 1401 N. Vermont Ave."
Workin' on a mystery
Goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream
Thank you, Tom.