I have been sitting on this a while. I wanted to bring this out specially for Dana Petty’s birthday(I am friends with her online), and I’m afraid I am about to explode so I will get it out a day early(also in case I don’t have a chance on the actual day).
Back in ’89, when Full Moon Fever came out, I wrote to Tom Petty, and you of course have all heard about my populating the letter with the rooster character I made of him, and little bird characters of the Heartbreakers and the Wilburys, and he sent me my guitar pick. Well, what I never have revealed was the third of three TP characters I have: Tumbleweed the Winged Mustang.
Tom was very into westerns, and it seemed like such a perfect, perfect character for him. Storylines I envisioned involved Tumbleweed swooping in to save other horses from mistreatment out in the West, or showing a lost human traveler where to find water, etc…
I have included a photo of me with a very overpainted tee shirt I did way back then at a puppetry festival; Tumbleweed existed as a puppet back then and I had him on my shirt and on my arm and I was quite proud of him. The likeness between the puppet and the drawings weren’t too spot on, but, I was getting there. Anyway,I included the shirt (on an obviously very young Liz) so you can see just how old this character is. Compare, of course, with the new, updated drawing.
Tumbleweed was in some of the margins of that original letter, so if Tom read my letter, which it seems to be proven that he did, he saw him. That still thrills me to no end, even if this never got anywhere. See, back then I was pretty ambitious and I was determined..DETERMINED to produce an animated short featuring Tumbleweed, and I wanted Tom to perform his voice. No other would do. I didn’t know how I would contact him or pay for it. How, how how???
I did get a few animation jobs and as I gained skill the more I thought about making the short. Then Tom did the voice of Lucky on King of the Hill and I remember thinking, “OH, god, that is THE voice, too! His hillbilly voice! I gotta do this!!”
But, obviously, it never happened, and I left the fandom for a while for weird reasons.
When I hear “Into the Great Wide Open” is when I most visualize little Tumbleweed, flying down and observing the weird things humans do, sitting on rooftops and fenceposts. “Learning to Fly”, one of my ultimate favorite songs in the catalogue, plays out a video in my head of how he GOT his wings—it happened magically.
I bring this out for you, my Dearest D, on your birthday, a bit early,but with the utmost love and affection for such a beautiful man. My Golden Boy, my Tumbleweed.