Last day of April. 1995. For weeks, you and your friends have been arguing: “What’s the most badass song Tom Petty can play at Shoreline?” It’s your first concert and your group is divided between “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” But you’ve settled on a different song.
It’s “Honey Bee” that catches your attention as you listen to the Wildflowers album on a CD boombox in your bedroom. After Petty’s whispered introduction, the song chugs along in a deep, dank groove. The lyrics are sharp and littered with double-entendres (which you’ll learn about later as an English major) and references to places you never imagine setting foot (“I’m the king of Milwaukee”). It’s a song you can get lost in — “Buzz awhile,” as Petty mumbles on the track.
You pile into a minivan and your group shuttles across the Dumbarton Bridge to the South bay amphitheatre built on an old landfill. Inside, it’s like a carnival with concession stands and people milling about jovially. You stop at the merchandise booth and can’t even afford a t-shirt. Once settled on the green, a live music venue is a seductive new territory. You’re not prepared for an opening act to lure you in (The Jayhawks) or for tuning, broken strings, dancing lights — so many distractions.
When Petty and the Heartbreakers take the stage, the crowd rises and roars. The band moves through sixteen songs — all the hits and some new material. Almost immediately, you’re treated with the two songs your group’s been arguing. But you wait and wait and never hear “Honey Bee.” Maybe you’re wrong about it being a good song.
After a raucous “Running Down a Dream,” the band walks off stage and your group rushes toward the exit to beat the crowd. You’re wired and already beginning to relive the night in conversations with your friends as you pass through a thin crowd.
And then, just past the security guards and event staff — the exits with bold NO RE-ENTRY! signs — the crunchy opening riff of “Honey Bee” rings through every speaker in the pavilion and all the way out to the edges of the parking lot you’re now stuck in. As the band choogles through the tune and your friends stand around in confusion and disappointment that you’ve left too early, you feel justified, and what you understand is that this song, more than many others, is most badass as this thing called an encore.
(Song recommendation by Andrew Jones)