Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" may be the most fun breakup song of all time. There's something exhilarating about singing along, off key, at the top of your lungs (just ask Tom Cruise). This may just be the ultimate tune for celebrating liberation from a relationship that's been holding you down.
But are you really free? Or are you just free falling? And how will you know the difference until you hit the ground?
About the Song
Tom Petty (vocals, guitar), Mike Campbell (guitar), Jeff Lynne (bass), Phil Jones (drums)
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
"Free Fallin'" is a bittersweet breakup song, the story of a "bad boy" leaving his "good girl" behind and then – maybe – coming to regret it. But it's also a kind of love song… to Los Angeles, Tom Petty's adopted hometown. And the song's music video, which presents a strange kind of mashup between the Reagan Era and the 1950s, suggests that the song might also be heard as a kind of lament for a lost version of the American Dream – the green-lawn-and-picket-fence vision of postwar suburbia, a place where having a "freeway runnin' through the yard" might once have been seen as proof of a bright utopian future rather than just another reminder of our disappointing traffic-choked present.
On the Charts
Released in 1989, "Free Fallin'" peaked at #7 on the US charts and #64 in the UK.
Tom Petty performed the song at the 2008 Super Bowl to close out his set.
The album Full Moon Fever went 5x platinum in the US and 6x platinum in Canada.
The album Full Moon Fever peaked in the top five of the Billboard 200.