The late Tom Petty would have turned 71 years old on October 20, 2021 making today as good of a day as any to cue up his music.
As we honor the life and legacy of the iconic songwriter, revisit his vast contributions right now on Audacy’s Tom Petty Radio Exclusive Station where you’ll find his hits, deep cuts, cover songs, and music from numerous artists that he inspired.
As a virtuosic songwriter, Petty had an uncanny way with words that enabled him to deliver powerful messages through song. His lyrics continue to connect with listeners new and old, oftentimes providing valuable life lessons along the way.
With hundreds of songs to choose from, there’s many avenues you can go down to find inspiration. Here are seven of Tom Petty’s best lyrics of all time.
“And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down/Gonna stand my ground/And I won’t back down”
You can find inspiration in almost any line from “I Won’t Back Down,” but this lyric hits the hardest as it serves as a great reminder to keep on pushing, especially during tough times.
“The waiting is the hardest part/Every day you get one more yard/You take it on faith, you take it to the heart/The waiting is the hardest part”
Petty delivers a great line about the values of patience and how difficult the journey is before you reach your end goal.
“Well some say life will beat you down/Break your heart, steal your crown/So I’ve started out for God knows where/I guess I’ll know when I get there”
“Learning To Fly” is a truly inspirational piece of work that continues Petty’s theme of dealing with the hardships of life and coming out better on the other side.
“Into the great wide open/Under them skies of blue/Out in the great wide open/A rebel without a clue”
One of the things that makes Petty a brilliant storyteller is his ability to leave things open for interpretation. He does just that in “Into the Great Wide Open” all while painting a beautiful picture.
“It's alright if you love me/It's alright if you don't/I'm not afraid of you running away/Honey, I get the feeling you won't”
The beautiful opening line of “Breakdown” puts into words so well the vibe of a romantic encounter where a connection undoubtedly exists, regardless of how much uncertainty there may be between two people.
“She's gonna listen to her heart/It's gonna tell her what to do/She might need a lot of loving/But she don't need you”
Although the song was written about an experience Petty’s wife had at a party thrown by Ike Turner, the sentiment of the song and this line holds strong and slams any guy who doesn’t regard a woman’s feelings.
“Yeah, runnin' down a dream/That never would come to me/Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads/Runnin' down a dream”
Closing out our list we continue with a theme prominently found in Petty’s work. The importance of chasing your dream no matter what route it takes to get there.