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pop punk + alt-rock
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(Un)Covered: Free Fallin’

Free Fallin’”
Writers: Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne
Original Release Date: October 27, 1989

Rock ’n’ roll lost an icon this week, so today’s (Un)Covered tips its hat to Tom Petty.

Tom Petty’s career spanned four decades, during which he produced so many wonderful hits with and without the Heartbreakers, including the iconic “Free Fallin’”. The first track released from Petty’s solo album, Full Moon Fever, “Free Fallin’” has since become one of the most well-known rock songs to ever exist—and it took only two days to write and record. “Free Fallin’” has such a simple melody but the dreamy quality perfectly evokes the Los Angeles landscape that inspired Petty’s lyrics, offering us a chance to “leave this world for a while”. There’s a bittersweet quality to the song—the idea of free falling “out into nothin’”—makes us long for freedom but fear what happens once we achieve it.

There are dozens of Tom Petty covers—one memorable case of Tom Cruise singing along to the radio in Jerry Maguire—but the one I come back to is The Almost’s version, recorded for Punk Goes Classic Rock in 2010. It’s a little heavier than the original—the drums are definitely more prominent, the guitar more punk rock than the straight-up rock ’n’ roll that Petty was known for. Aaron Gillespie almost sounds like Petty at times but he gives the song his own flair and his voice gives the repeated chorus of “now I’m free fallin’” a more desperate tinge than the mellow Tom Petty vocals we’re used to.

The Almost did a fantastic job covering an iconic song but Tom Petty is a music legend never to be matched for what he contributed. In these trying times, we should all take a page out of his book and try to “keep this world from draggin’ [us] down”.

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