62-year old “Heartbreaker” Gram Robertson, who provides backup vocals, harmonica and guitar for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, recently acquired a pacemaker after doctors deemed his aged heart unfit to run itself. Ironically, Robertson is known as having a keen sense of time un-paralleled among many of his fellow musicians, and has a reputation for “never missing a beat.” But he now readily acknowledges that even his own heart can no longer live up to this reputation.
“You know, it’s funny,” croaked the aged Robertson from his hospital bed, after successfully coming out of angioplasty. “After all these years of breaking hearts– metaphorically, you understand–I now think I’ve broken the last one. My own.”
“Also,” the sexagenarian rock idol feebly continued, “I now have only one working lung, and my stomach can’t digest food on its own without constant external massage.”
Were he the young man he once was, he might have collaborated with Petty to create a simple and folky, yet heartfelt and emotionally complex threechord tune about his condition. He says, “It would start out, ‘My stomach can’t churn …,’ no wait, how about ‘Been lyin’ in the hospital about a week …’ aw, hell, what’s the use?”
Robbed by nature of not only the capacity but also the will to produce, the former rock innovator is now content to lie in his bed and listen to the imaginary beat of his pacemaker. “It doesn’t actually have a beat, like a drum; I think it’s electronic. Like a computer. Hey, that’s kind of fitting, somehow.” Robertson then proceeded to stare into space, occasionally smiling or nearly imperceptibly moving his lips, and was unresponsive to further questions.