Free Fallin'

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For other uses, see Free-fall (disambiguation).
"Free Fallin'"
Single by Tom Petty
from the album Full Moon Fever
  • "Down the Line"
  • "Love Is a Long Road"
  • "Free Fallin'" (live)
Released October 27, 1989 (1989-10-27)
Genre Heartland rock, soft rock
Length 4:14
Label MCA Records
Tom Petty singles chronology
"Runnin' Down a Dream"
"Free Fallin"
"A Face in the Crowd"
Full Moon Fever track listing

"Free Fallin'" is the opening track from Tom Petty's 1989 solo debut album, Full Moon Fever. The song was written by Petty and his writing partner for the album, Jeff Lynne (and also 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.

"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.[1] The song is ranked #177 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was featured in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire and The Sopranos episode 2.13, "Funhouse" (2000). Lou Reed selected the song as one of his 'picks of 1989'.[2]

The song is featured in the video game Lego Rock Band.

Los Angeles-area references[edit]

Multiple references to Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley appear in the lyrics of the song, including:

  • "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 Valley and Hollywood.


In his Full Moon Fever review published in BBC Music in 2009, Chris Jones explained that "Free Fallin'" was one of the album's tracks that "addressed nostalgia while explaining how he'd reached this level of success. Hit single Free Fallin' mistily looked back at a childhood sweetheart ("She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis... I'm a bad boy for breakin' her heart") left in his wake as he left Florida for the West Coast in search of stardom".[3]


  • Tom Petty – lead vocals, guitar
  • Mike Campbell – guitar
  • Jeff Lynne – backing vocals, bass guitar
  • Phil Jones – drums

Track listings[edit]

US 7" / Cassette
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Free Fallin'"   4:14
2. "Down the Line"  
Total length: 7:08
UK 7"
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Free Fallin'"  
  • Petty
  • Lynne
2. "Love Is a Long Road"  
  • Petty
  • Campbell
Total length: 8:20
UK 12" / CD
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Free Fallin'"  
  • Petty
  • Lynne
2. "Love Is a Long Road"  
  • Petty
  • Campbell
3. "Free Fallin'" (live)
  • Petty
  • Lynne


Chart (1989-2012) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[4] 155
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[5] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 66
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 61
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 59
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 7
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[11] 29

Cover versions[edit]


External links[edit]