The creative lyricism of Tom Petty was thrust upon me at a young age. My mother used to sing “Free Fallin” as she reminisced about living in California in the 80s. When I was about 15, I imported all eight CDs of the complete Tom Petty collection onto my iPod. But, not all Tom Petty albums were created equal. For me, Full Moon Fever takes the cake. Released in 1989, Full Moon Fever was Tom Petty’s first official solo album – he previously performed with a band as “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” This album is about love, break-ups, loneliness and achieving international stardom. Most of these we can all relate to. The point is, no matter where you are in your personal life, Tom Petty’s got you covered.
1. Free Fallin’
This is the #1 song to play at max volume while you’re driving down a deserted highway. It arouses feelings of nostalgia and the lyrics are perfect for a sloppy sing-along. Watch out for the awesome guitar solo at 3:19.
Heads up, the John Mayer version sucks. This is a prime example of a cover that should never have been attempted. Stick to the original.
“All the vampires walkin’ through the valley, move west down Ventura Blvd. And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows and the good girls are home with broken hearts”
2. I Won’t Back Down
A really motivating tune. Listen to this when you’re about to argue about a test grade or ask for a raise or do something similarly futile.
Fun fact: Sam Smith had to pay royalties to Tom Petty because his single “Stay With Me” was so similar to “I Won’t Back Down.”
“You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down”
3. Love is a Long Road
Having relationship troubles? Tom Petty gets it. It’s okay because “Loooove is long, long road.”
The intro to this song is so stereotypically eighties and it’s amazing.
4. A Face in The Crowd
One of the slower, sadder tracks on Full Moon Fever. It gives the timeline of a relationship: from meeting, to falling in love, to eventually breaking up (I assume). Everyone we care about was once “just a face in the crowd.” Deep, right?
5. Runnin’ Down A Dream
This is a good song for that one time a year you force yourself to get on a treadmill.
Honestly, my favorite part of this song is not even the actual song. It’s a voiceover by Tom Petty at 4:30 telling the listeners to flip over their record or cassette tape to listen to side 2 of the album. He’s got an incredibly soothing speaking voice.
6. Feel A Whole Lot Better
A seriously uplifting breakup song. If you ever had an ex that you couldn’t get over, this song is for you.
“And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re goooone”
Same, Tom Petty. Same.
7. Yer So Bad
One of my favorites by far, right up there with Free Fallin’. The chorus is wonderfully romantic I wish it was written about me. Petty does a great job of giving this song a full story arc.
“My sister got lucky, married a yuppie, took him for all he was worth. Now she’s a swinger, dating a singer, I can’t decide which is worse”
8. Depending On You
I imagine this is about the rocky beginnings of a relationship. It expresses the uncertainty and doubt you feel before making a commitment to another person. Petty is a bit critical of his new partner, and the relationship seems doomed to fail.
“Baby if you can’t change the world, maybe you should just change yourself”
9. The Apartment Song
So relatable. See, even superstar Tom Petty feels lonely sometimes. If that doesn’t make you feel better post-Valentine’s Day (aka Single Awareness Day) I don’t know what will.
“Oh yeah, I’m alright, I just feel a little lonely tonight. I’m okay most of the time, I just feel a little lonely tonight.”
10. Alright For Now
The most calming track on the album with just a twinge of sadness. This is the best song for napping or tuning out your loud parents/roommates/neighbors. Let Tom Petty’s soothing voice lull you to sleep.
11. A Mind With a Heart of Its Own
A quick transition from the previous song. “A Mind With A Heart of Its Own” is upbeat and even though the lyrics are nonsensical it’s still really fun to sing along to.
12. Zombie Zoo
Speaking of nonsensical, this song is SO WEIRD. Is it about drugs? Or a dream? Seriously guys I don’t know what it means but it’s catchy. It’s also one of the best tracks on the album.
Many internet people claim the song is about a hooker, but I had my doubts. With a little research, I discovered that the “Zombie Zoo” was a punk club in LA. So I was close when I guessed it was about drugs. “Zombie Zoo” is great for dancing with your one friend who is equally obsessed with Tom Petty (Shout-out to my girl Tess).
“Sometimes you’re so impulsive, you shaved off all your hair. You look like Boris Karloff, and you don’t even care”
That concludes our lengthy Tom Petty album review. I hope this has been as fun to read as it was to write.