Chances are you’ve heard Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” for most of your life, one of those catchy Soft Rock tunes that just seems to be there in the back of your mind without you realizing how it got there; Much like Coca-Cola’s relentless marketing, this song stays with you, its dreamy melodicism & vaguely-psychedelic instrumentation taking audiences to a world of introspective thinking & existential ramblings any time it comes on. Though initially written as a bit of a joke, this song sees Petty murmuring on about life in Los Angeles at the time, the so-called strip-mall-culture running rampant across the valley as residents lived in relative peace, able to merely walk the length of a single road & find everything they’d ever need in a few block’s distance; He tries to find the beauty in the banality, his “good girl” cuffed to living the life of a valley girl, wasting away in the mundane while he & the other “bad boys” were off walking among the vampires on Ventura Blvd, slicing out their own little piece of culture to own & feel powerful from, despite there inherently being no importance to their actions at all – Peaceful times are repetitive & uninteresting, but it is because of this boring existence that the little moments become so beautiful, the youth holding on so dearly to popularity, love & rebelliousness that they give it all an emboldened meaning.
While the narrative elements of “Free Fallin’” are simplistic in nature, they’re rather poetic, a snapshot of life at the time that says more in a few verses than some people say in an entire Album, though it’s not just Petty’s words that make this a reality – The instrumentation for this number is light & airy, creating a dreamscape of clean guitars, droning basslines & softly-shuffling drums that feel just like living in slow motion, as if it were the soundtrack to your nostalgia; Their wispy melodies & sloth-like tempo match perfectly with the slow motion scenes of its accompanying music video too as if watching your memories suspended in time, observing the mundane with a brilliant glow that makes you miss your youth, regardless of whether or not the one pictured matches the one you grew up in. All of these elements come together to form an audio & visual experience that encourages audiences to slow down & contemplate just what the hell it is they want in life & whether or not they’re truly happy with things the way they are now that they have the lens of hindsight to look through.
Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne
"Free Fallin'" is the opening track from Tom Petty's debut solo album, Full Moon Fever (1989). The song was written by Petty and his writing partner for the album, Jeff Lynne, and features Lynne on backing vocals and bass guitar. The duo wrote and recorded the single in two days, making it the first song completed for Full Moon Fever.