Lip-syncing the words silently to himself as he watches Miley Cyrus belt out the final chorus to her cover of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, tears streaming down his face and his upper lip curled in a cresting of long-dormant emotion, Pickering man John Hardy was forced to admit yesterday that “that was pretty good.”
“Normally when someone says the words ‘Miley,’ and ‘Cyrus’ together in a sentence, I reflexively judge both the person saying those words, myself for hearing them, and the music industry as a whole for consistently letting down my high, if often arbitrary, standards of artists and their entire back catalogues in perpetuity,” John says as he stares out his kitchen window after viewing the clip, still recovering from the wracking sobs the former Disney star unexpectedly elicited from him with her recent performance on The Tonight Show.
“It starts out well, and just builds. Solid singing, true to the original yet adding her own flourishes, I was reluctantly drawn in. Then she gets to the part where she says ‘ready dad?’ And Billy Ray – who normally makes me want to throw things at the radio – just nods under his cowboy hat and lays into the riff and I find myself almost willing to forgive the guy for Achy Breaky Heart. It’s right there that I knew that this was something special. “
After the eighteenth viewing, still singing the line ‘Run away, find you a lover,’ John finds himself doing something he once specifically instructed a friend what weapon to use on him and where (shotgun, in the face) were his buddy ever to catch him engaging in the this act. He publicly shares a video of Miley Cyrus.
“The girl can sing,” Hardy types above the link, before adding a six sentence paragraph that distances himself from the artist as a whole, questions her father’s right to even look at a guitar, and reasserts John’s own general manliness as an overarching and indelible theme in his life. Then he clicks ‘share.’
Within moments a close friend comments on the post. John, beginning to question the wisdom of not keeping this one to himself, immediately checks it. His co-worker David, who uses his own account mostly for re-posting memes that deride the inherent fragility of snowflakes, has left a brief but telling response: ‘WTF?’
In a spasm of insecurity, John deletes the entire post.
“That was a bad idea,” he says, before flipping back to Youtube while humming the final line of the Tom Petty tune, and again clicking replay. “You belong somewhere you feel free,” he says quietly to himself, nodding slowly. “You belong somewhere you feel free.”