"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.
|Single by Tom Petty|
|from the album Full Moon Fever|
|Released||October 27, 1989|
|Tom Petty singles chronology|
"Free Fallin'" is one of Petty's most famous tracks as well as his longest-charting. It peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in January 1990. Petty and The Heartbreakers performed the song at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1989, with Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, and at the February 2008 Super Bowl XLII Halftime Show. The song is ranked #179 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was featured in the film Jerry Maguire (1996) and The Sopranos episode 2.13, "Funhouse" (2000). Lou Reed selected the song as one of his "picks of 1989". The song was #2 on the Spotify Global Viral 50 following the death of Petty.
Los Angeles-area referencesEdit
- "The Valley" – the name the San Fernando Valley is known as colloquially
- Reseda – a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley
- 101 "Ventura" Freeway – the lyrics mention "a freeway runnin' through the yard" of the subject's Reseda home - putatively the 101 Freeway, which has an exit for Reseda Boulevard, albeit in the higher-income neighborhood of Tarzana
- Ventura Boulevard – a primary east-west thoroughfare in the San Fernando Valley
- "Mulholland" – a reference to Mulholland Drive, a road that follows the ridgeline of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood
Development and meaningEdit
Petty explained in an interview with Billboard magazine that he and Jeff Lynne were sitting around trying to come up with a song, and Lynne got him to say "free falling". The next day they went and recorded the song. He didn't write it about any person, but instead what he saw on his frequent drives along Ventura Boulevard.
- Tom Petty – lead vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar
- Mike Campbell – electric guitar, 6-string acoustic guitar, 12-string electric guitar
- Jeff Lynne – backing vocals, bass guitar
- Phil Jones – drums
|US 7" / Cassette|
|2.||"Down the Line"||2:54|
|2.||"Love Is a Long Road"||4:06|
|UK 12" / CD|
|2.||"Love Is a Long Road"||4:06|
|3.||"Free Fallin'" (live)|
Charts and certificationsEdit
- In 1993 - De La Soul and Teenage Fanclub sampled the song for "Fallin'", which appeared on the Judgment Night soundtrack.
- In 1996 - Stevie Nicks covered the song for the Party of Five soundtrack, and the song was later included on her album Enchanted.
- In 1999 - Deana Carter sang a version of the song that played in the Season 3 finale's ending credits of Mike Judge's animated comedy King of the Hill (airdate May 18, 1999); this version was later included on the series soundtrack released later that year.
- In 2002 - YG Family's 97-YG-02 album includes a Korean version.
- In 2003 - Tony Hadley, lead singer of new romantic band Spandau Ballet, released a cover version on his compilation True Ballads.
- Since 2003 - Mýa covered the song which was released from her Moodring album; the song uses different lyrics and arrangements.
- In 2006 - Rapper Pimp C sampled the song for "I'm Free", off his album Pimpalation.
- In 2007 - American recording artist John Mayer included a live cover version on his live album Where the Light Is.
- In 2009 - Chamillionaire sampled the song for his track "Good Morning".
- In 2010 - The Almost recorded a cover for the compilation Punk Goes Classic Rock.
- In 2010 - Pink performed the song in the stage of The Funhouse Summer Carnival of the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands
- In 2012 - Nick Carter performed the song on his I'm Taking Off tour.
- In 2013 - Katey Sagal covered the song on her album Covered.
- In 2013 - Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs covered the song on their album Under the Covers, Vol. 3.
- In 2014 - Kesha performed the song at Best Fest's Petty Fest April 3, 2014, making it her first performance since her treatment for an eating disorder.
- In 2014 - Matoma used the vocals of John Mayer's version for Free Fallin Tropical Mojito Remix (John Mayer Tribute).
- In 2017 - Coldplay covered the song with Peter Buck of R.E.M. in Portland, Oregon as a tribute to Petty following his death. Coldplay performed the song again in Pasadena, California with James Corden.
- In 2019 - Fleetwood Mac covered the song in Newark, New Jersey, during their World Tour, as a tribute to Petty following his death.
- Smith, Troy L. "250 greatest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Songs: Part 2 (#200-151)". cleveland.com. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
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- Rolling Stone, March 8, 1990
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- Cathy Applefeld Olson (June 7, 2017). "Tom Petty Originally Wrote 'Free Fallin'' Just to Make Jeff Lynne Laugh". Billboard. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- "ARIA Chart Watch #441". auspOp. October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "Tom Petty Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Tom Petty – Free Fallin'" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
- "Charts.nz – Tom Petty – Free Fallin'". Top 40 Singles.
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- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 188.
- "Tom Petty Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
- "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
- "British single certifications – Tom Petty – Free Fallin'". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Free Fallin in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- Needham, Lucy; Newman, Vicki; Shenton, Zoe (October 3, 2017). "Emotional moment Coldplay audience stand in absolute silence to remember victims of Las Vegas shooting - before launching into Tom Petty tribute song". Mirror. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Kreps, Daniel (October 7, 2017). "See Coldplay, James Corden Sing Tom Petty's 'Free Fallin' at Rose Bowl". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 8, 2017.