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What does Tom Petty mean when he sings the lyric “I’m free fallin’?” I love the song but I find the lyrics mysterious. In what sense is he free falling and what is the song about? Help me, please

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10 Comments

  1. J Canseco

    He dumped a boring girl and he’s driving off somewhere to get high and be irresponsible.

    April 25th, 2014 2:34 pm

  2. Jack Hammer

    I really enjoy this song too. Petty is very good.

    The lyrics deal with Los Angeles culture. It implies that the people of L.A. will casually use others for personal gain, as the singer has just dumped a girl and doesn’t even miss her.

    April 25th, 2014 2:48 pm

  3. RuffDaySF

    Specifically, on the “glide down” and “Free falling” . . . if you take off from Burbank, you will likely climb over the Hollywood Hills (where Mulholland Drive is). Believe it or not, the pilots will cut the throttle so as to not disturb the residents and you will, literally, glide down over Mulholland.

    April 25th, 2014 2:48 pm

  4. Mark

    He fell in love, broke up with her, wishes he hadn’t, now he’s on his own and leavin’ town (L.A.).

    April 25th, 2014 2:53 pm

  5. chris

    Wikipedia says….. Petty mistily looks back at a childhood sweetheart left in his wake as he left Florida for the west coast in search of stardom……

    April 25th, 2014 4:37 pm

  6. B-Rad

    Coincidently, I was driving around yesterday and this came on the radio.
    I don’t like it.
    I turned on one of my queued-up CD’s immediately but was wondering who
    did it (Free Fallin’). Thanks for that info – I like his ‘Breakdown’ and ‘Refugee’.

    Since you said you like The Beachboys and the oldies girl supergroups a few
    years ago (I do too), I have been 180 degrees opposed to your musical
    assessments (or as Jimmy Raye used to say – “I’m thinking of going 360
    degrees in a different direction”).

    You like Fats Domino – I don’t.
    You like Muddy Waters – I don’t like the blues.
    You dislike folk music – I cut my guitar teeth on folk music back in the ’60′s and
    ……will always like it though I don’t play it anymore.

    After you made your anti-folk music comment I was wondering whether you
    like ‘The Boxer’.
    On the one hand, Simon and Garfunkle are from NYC.
    On the other hand, the song is done in pure folk music style.
    On the third hand, the subject is among your favorites.
    On the fourth hand, this is my favorite S & G song so you probably don’t like it.

    April 26th, 2014 1:27 pm

  7. Streetglide

    On the one hand Lowell has exquisite taste in music. On the other hand, 99 percent of so-called “folk music” is pure schlock… and yes I’m a picker.

    April 27th, 2014 10:09 am

  8. Stan

    I think he was noticing he was getting older..his straight ahead rock of the 80′s was getting stale by the late 80′s. Alternative rock was taking over with powers chords and melancholy lyrics. Petty wrote that song and “Mary Jane’s last dance” in the early 90′s. It was sort of acknowledging that new rock was for the young. There is never a new wave of guys in their 30′s.
    Other then with the Traveling Wilburys in the mid 90′s..Tom is now pretty much a nostalgia act. We all get old. And then we die.
    Have a nice day!

    April 27th, 2014 10:14 am

  9. Stan

    btw, Even if your an atheist,science now says that even though you die,the Universe cannot destroy information. Everything ever done by every atom is stored somewhere..most likely on the surface of our bubble universe. And when that bubble bursts?..its history is kept somewhere on a larger universe.
    So,I guess we are immortal..in some way.

    April 27th, 2014 10:20 am

  10. Kommon Senze

    Petty actually said in an interview once that he started writing this song reluctantly along with Jeff Lynne as they were banging out some chords on a new synthesizer (Tom apparently was not a fan of synths). They had a basic four chord progression, and Lynne encouraged Petty to work out some type of lyric or chorus. The first lyric he wrote was “She’s a good girl, loves her momma” (this is included in the liner notes of the CD, if anyone still has it — I do). That was all he had, but he sort of started ‘free styling’ lyrics from there, and wrote the first few verses fairly quickly.

    The indication Petty gave in that interview was that this wasn’t really a song about anything, really, so much as it was some free association he was doing on the sort of things he was seeing around him while recording in LA (he recorded primarily at Sound City Studios in LA back then).

    BTW – The other fortuitous thing that came out of the Lynne/Petty collaboration on this song (and the entire ‘Full Moon Fever’ album) was them creating that little ‘super group’ of there’s shortly after, The Traveling Willburys. (During the recording sessions for this album, Lynne brought in Roy Orbison to sing on ‘Zombie Zoo’ and George Harrison to sing on ‘I Won’t Back Down;’ both of them would join Lynne, Petty, and Dylan in that group).

    April 28th, 2014 12:37 pm

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