It’s 2:00 in the afternoon on a hot Sunday; a dim light glows in my living room. I shut the windows to isolate any possible noise. I’m having coffee with Benmont Tench, legendary keyboardist and founding member of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I am nervous despite the fact that I’ve known him for a while, and I know that he’s cool, elegant—a real gentleman. In my introduction to the Marc Maron episode I told you how every conversation with my guests feels like a first date (and I don’t usually date). I am ambiguous about this feeling, but I like the adrenaline and the infinite possibilities that always arise from my pounding heart. So I make sure everything is perfect for when he enters the room.
As we sit on the couch I notice his perfectly groomed silver beard and the gorgeous, native-style rings on his fingers; he is handsome, dressed in refined shades of dark. As you can enjoy in the podcast version of this interview—Episode 39—his voice is deep, seducing and low in tone. I try to ignore my increasing preoccupation for the technicalities of the recording process: Sitting next to me there is a legend, a musician I deeply admire, but also a man whose journey is somewhat similar to mine. I know this will be the real deal and my accent will be just fine.