Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer Staff Writer 

Jason Aldean Performs Tom Petty Song "I Won't Back Down" on Saturday Night Live

The Singer had been onstage when the shooting started during the Harvest Country Music Festival


October 16, 2017

Here is what Jason Aldean said on October 7th on NBC's SNL:

Jason Aldean told the whole world he and they need not back down in the face of inscrutable evil.

Appearing on Saturday Night Live, the country music performer sang Tom Petty's hit song about defiance and courage. He preceded this with a brief but brave monologue on the importance of facing evil.

Petty died this week also, of cardiac arrest after a brief hospitalization. He died on October 2, the day after the shooting, at age 66.

Aldean cancelled several appearances following the October 1 shooting, calling on all Americans to "Come together and stop the hate." Here is what he said on October 7th on NBC's SNL:

"I'm Jason Aldean. This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends - they're all part of our family. So I want to say to them: We hurt for you and we hurt with you. But you can be sure we're going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way, because when America is at it's best, our bond and our spirit, it's unbreakable."

"I Won't Back Down" is the first single from Tom Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever released in 1989. The song was written by Petty and Jeff Lynne, his writing partner for the album. It reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Album Rock Tracks chart for five weeks, starting the album's road to multi-platinum status.

A message of defiance against unnamed forces of difficulty and possibly oppression, the lyric is set against a mid-tempo beat:

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

Due to its themes, the song was played often on American radio following the September 11 attacks. Petty and the Heartbreakers played a quiet but resolute version of the song at the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon following the 2001 attacks.

In the 2007 documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, Petty said that he felt some initial hesitation about releasing the song, given its clear and unabashed message.

Aldean cancelled several appearances following the October 1 shooting, calling on all Americans to "Come together and stop the hate."

George W. Bush used "I Won't Back Down" at campaign events during the 2000 presidential campaign but was compelled to stop using the song after receiving a cease and desist letter from Petty's publisher. Petty did not want the use of his song to be construed as an endorsement of candidate Bush. Jim Webb used the song for his successful bid for one of Virginia's U.S. Senate seats in 2006, as did Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign. The song was also used at campaign events for Congressman Ron Paul of Texas during the 2008 Republican presidential primary campaign, as well as for events for his Campaign for Liberty. The song was also played at an event for Republican Connecticut gubernatorial nominee, Tom Foley. The song was also played at the 2012 Democratic National Convention after speech delivered by President Bill Clinton, in which President Barack Obama came out on stage to salute him.


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