The Story Of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin"

By | May 22, 2022

test article image
Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty during The 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Rehearsal at Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

The music industry bursts with acrimonious stories but Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” bucks that trend. It was a smooth collaboration between Petty, producer Jeff Lynne, and guitarist Mike Campbell. Together the trio pumped out "I Won't Back Down" and "Runnin' Down A Dream,” along with “Free Fallin’” for his iconic Full Moon Fever album. Unbelievably, the original powers that be at MCA outright rejected that Hall of Fame album, claiming it lacked any hits! Eventually, smarter heads prevailed, and “Free Fallin’” became the third single in that murderer’s row of musical masterpieces. Here’s the history of “Free Fallin.’”

test article image
Jeff Lynne helped Petty find his style. the80sruled

Mulholland Drive

As Petty told VH1, a certain stretch of road provided much inspiration for the artist. "'I used to ride down Mulholland Drive and make up songs. Some of the songs were good, and some of the songs just wouldn't swing. I had this one: [sings] 'Mulholland Drive' and I never could get anywhere with that song.” Eventually, Petty found his creative push hanging out with Lynne and Campbell.

As the lead Heartbreaker remembered:

“One day with my friend Jeff Lynne and we were playing around on the keyboard. I hit this lick and he said, 'That's a good lick you got there,' and I played it again. So, just to make him laugh I started to make up words:

She's a good girl, loves her mama

Loves Jesus and America too

She's a good girl, crazy about Elvis...

And he goes, 'Good.' I said, 'What? What was good?'

'It's all good, just sing that.'"