Lesbos, Greece - Refugees at the infamously wretched refugee camp on the Greek island bordering Turkey, tell the international Press willing to go there that Tom Petty's 1980 classic rock hit "You Don't Have To Live Like A Refugee" is sometimes played all day long over the camp's shabby P.A. system.
Many say that they get the message in Petty's lyrics, and that they like the song, although they tire of it after seven or eight hours at a time.
"We get it, alright?" said Ahmed Zoukinini, an actual brain surgeon from Syria, that we found wiping his ass with a prickly bush on the borders of the camp. "Listen, it's a great tune. But we are all stuck here, OK? We can't go back, and we can't get into Europe. So, we do actually have to live like refugees...and it sucks crap. Mr. Petty has no idea what he is talking about, in my opinion. He is riding a nice tour bus around America some place. With plenty of toilet paper."
Camp official, Kurtmus Ingersoll, said that they play the song as encouragement, to get people's spirits up. And also because it's one of the few tapes they have at hand. "Our P.A. system is an old ghetto blaster with only the A side of the tape deck working right now. And that tape is stuck in there. It's my tape, I brought it from Belguim. I don't want to break it. So we don't have a lot of options. If we play any of the other songs on that side, people piss and moan about that too. "Even The Losers? Forget about it. If we try to play any ethnic, local music on the radio, we seem to always start a riot fire somewhere in the camp, and 50 people lose their shelters. So we just keep playing Refugee."
"I was beaten, tied up and taken away," tells Melda Mericus. "I am sick of hearing that song. It gives me flashbacks and nightmares."
"Yes, I too. Kicked around some and held for ransom. I don't want to hear it anymore, either. I can't sleep. I do have to live like a refugee," agreed a frail, weeping woman wearing a hijab, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of an inside hit job on her family, for complaining about the radio music.
Still others say that they have become very big fans of the song, and it's having positive effects. We met Shzar Shavniz, crawling out of a small tunnel near the back of the camp. "Shh, we are digging a very small tunnel, all the way to Europe! Don't tell anyone. Especially that weird little woman in the hijab," said Shzar. "Then soon, we will be in America to see Tom Petty in live concert and play this song. That is what we all wish for most, now. I'm sure a lot of other lovers been burned, but we are gonna make it! You gotta feel to be true! That's catchy."
A 'Tom Petty live!' chant then broke out around Shzar, who anxiously tried to quieten the crowd.
We left Shzar and his crew of small digging children, without telling them that A, we are on an island, so digging will be tricky. And B, Tom Petty won't be doing any live shows on this planetary existence, anytime soon. We just patted them on the back and offered them gum.
And our own encouragement.
Honey, it don't make no difference to me, everybody's had to fight to be free!