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
Music video
"Free Fallin'" on YouTube

"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]

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.

Development and meaning[edit]

Tom 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 drive through Ventura Boulevard. [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]