I’ve been dreading writing these words since I woke up on October 2nd. Actually, I’ve dreaded writing these words for years now: since Paris, since Orlando, since Manchester.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to properly convey the heaviness, the true impact of all the lives lost in Las Vegas on October 1st; to truly do justice to the lives and memories of 58 souls egregiously taken too soon. Each person had a family, had friends, had a story to be told. I didn’t know them–many of us didn’t know them–but in a strange way we did, and feel like we do.
Most of us have been there, attending a show or festival with friends and loved ones, surrounded by a sea of strangers who all felt a bit closer, a bit more like family as the music played and the waves of song made its way through the crowd. Music has long been an equalizer, a commonality that’s brought together those who have nothing else in common.
When Tom Petty passed away the day after the shooting it felt like taking another hit to the gut, to lose a rock icon mere hours after losing more than four dozen music-loving individuals. But as the minutes and hours ticked by, somehow managing to continue on in the face of all this loss, music has attempted to heal us again.
Eric Church penned the song, “Why Not Me,” in the wake of the tragedy. Heather Melton, whose husband Sonny Melton was killed protecting her in the shooting, told ABC’s 20/20 she plans on burying him in his Eric Church concert tee. Jason Aldean, who was on stage as the shooting unfolded, appeared on SNL on the seventh, performing an emotional tribute to the victims as he covered Petty’s infamous, “I Won’t Back Down.”
The weight of Aldean’s heartfelt rendition isn’t lost on viewers. As we face another horrific act of violence, there is a refusal in the masses to simply let this occur again. There is anger, there is heartache, there is a desperate need for actual change in gun control and mental health.
Tom Petty once told ABC News, “Everyone has tragedy in their life. You can lay down and let the tragedy overwhelm you, or you can fly above it.” To truly honor those lost, we must decline to sit idly by and continue to allow these acts to stay a sad, societal norm.
Music is what brought those 58 souls together that day, and while hatred and violence attempt to break us and tear us apart, music is still acting as a bandage, holding us together.
“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life,” he once said. “There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. And it moves and it heals and it communicates and does all these incredible things.”
As music bridges the gaps between us, it’s up to us to do the rest–to be the change that stops the bleeding.
In Memory Of…
Jennifer Topaz Irvine
Thomas Day Jr.
Bill Wolfe Jr.
Kurt Von Tillow
Tara Roe Smith
Kelsey Brianne Meadows
Keri Lynn Galvan
Austin Cooper Meyer
Lt. Derrick “Bo” Taylor
To donate to the Las Vegas Victims Fund, visit gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund.