I was listening to Tom Petty on the radio. I was cruising down the highway heading home from a long day at work. The song “I Won’t Back Down” fires up on the radio. It brings back memories of a time long ago: my college years. I was probably a freshman or a sophomore at Ohio University. I don’t remember the exact year the song was released and I’m not going to Google it for you. Man, are you lazy—wanting me to Google something for you.
For those of you who may not know this classic song, it’s an inspirational song sung in an upbeat tempo. A song about standing your ground regardless of what the world throws at you. The opening verse is made up of the following lyrics.
Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
So I’m singing along with Tom using my voice at top volume. I sing pretty awesome in my car, with the windows up, and when I’m alone. You’d be impressed. But then the voices in my head started thinking a bit too much about the lyrics.
That first line: “Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down”
Ok Tom. You’ve started off by really stressing your point. Twice. I get it. Obviously it’s important to you. You sir, are not about to back down. But, do you really talk that way in real life?
“Tom, you want something to drink?”
“Well I’ll have a cup of coffee, yes I’ll have a cup of coffee.”
“Ya, alright Tom. You seem to be repeating yourself. Do you want one or two cups? Because I’m a little confused.”
The next line is really odd when you think about it: “You could stand me up at the gates of hell”
Tom. Tom. Tom. Do you always arrange meetings in such horrible places?
“Say Tom, where do you want to meet for coffee?”
“How about the gate of hell? I know of this little shop near there. The coffee is always piping hot. You’re going to love it.”
“There is a very strong possibility of me standing you up.”
Seriously, why does Tom think that anyone would want to meet him at the gates of hell? He hit the nail on the head when he was speculating that his friend may be standing him up. Who’s going there willingly? Maybe he could have changed it up a little bit.
“You can stand my up at the DMV.”
I guess that’s not really any different: the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Gates of Hell. Yeah, same thing.
He continues, “But I won’t back down.”
So Tom, just to be clear. You’re going to be hanging out at the gates of hell long after your friends have stood you up. And yet, you’re not about to back down. No sir. You have stamina. You will hang out at the gates of hell as long as it takes, desperately clinging to the hope that your friend will change his or her mind and meet you at the fiery gates. You know, maybe this is one of those times where throwing in the towel isn’t such a bad thing. Relax Tom. Back down just a little bit. Maybe you should walk back down a block or two and turn a corner—somewhere so the gates of hell aren’t in your direct line of sight. I strongly suspect that more of your friends will reach out to you if you start hanging out in safer neighborhoods.
Fine. Don’t back down. Keep arranging your little meetings any way you see fit.