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Monday, May 28, 2012

"Free Fallin'"

Tom Petty - "Free Fallin'" (1989)

Will always be associated with Jerry Maguire after Tom Cruise fails to sing along to "Bitch" by The Rolling Stones, "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush, and Gram Parsons' "She", he finally celebrates by singing this song at the top of his lungs.

Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers had recorded several successful albums, and Petty had not planed to go solo at all, but in 1988 he joined supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. One of the people he worked with was Jeff Lynne, songwriter, singer, and record producer most associated with the Electric Light Orchestra. Petty and Lynn wrote some songs together after they recorded the first Traveling Wilburys album and Petty decided that they didn't sound like 'Heartbreaker' tunes, so he decided to do a solo album. Most of the members of his band did record something for the album, but it started a rift that took some time to eventually clear the band. Adding ELO's Lynn on songwriting and producing duties means the entire album Full Moon Fever has a smoother sound, with more layers and less of the rougher sound of early Petty.

The jangling guitars almost never stop in the whole song, they provided the dreamy cloud that the rest of the song sits on. Even the verse with the military snare drum has the guitars under it. The bass is slow and you can hear it bend from one note up to the other, which just adds to the dream like effect of the song. The lyrics are dream like as well. The first verse describes an 'American Dream Girl' who loves horses, her boyfriend and Jesus. Later in the song petty sings of vampires living in the San Fernando Valley, and gliding and falling into the sky. There are many layers of backing vocals, chanting and adding texture, all of which leads me to the conclusion that the whole song is about the American Dream, and how it's all kind of a dream in Los Angeles.

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