Tom Petty – Running Down a Dream … Full Moon Fever Week

When I bought Full Moon Fever in 1989 I was happy with my first pass through the album. The album doesn’t have seven hits like Born In The USA but it doesn’t have a bad track on it.

Tom Petty started running down his dream of being a rocker in 1961 when he met Elvis Presley. Petty, 11 years old, came to the Ocala, Florida set where Elvis was working on the film Follow That Dream – a title Tom took to heart. In a brief encounter, Petty saw how Elvis captivated onlookers and made the girls go crazy. Petty became fascinated with Elvis and set out to follow his path.

This song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100, #23 in Canada, and #55 in the UK in 1989.

Those noises were made by Shannon and Jeff Lynne; Petty used them as an interlude to mark the middle of the album because you don’t have to flip over a CD. This section was included only on CD versions of Full Moon Fever but survived the transition when the album was released digitally….I have this at the bottom

From Songfacts

In this song, Petty sings about driving into the great wide open, with nothing but glorious possibility in his path.

The animated video was inspired by a comic strip called Little Nemo In Slumberland by Winsor McKay. Each strip told the story of one of Nemo’s dreams, and at the end, he always woke up.

Full Moon Fever was listed as a Tom Petty solo album even though members of The Heartbreakers played on it. Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne also played on it.

Heartbreakers’ guitarist Mike Campbell wrote this with Petty and Jeff Lynne. The three of them worked on the album at Campbell’s house. Petty and Campbell were very impressed with Lynne’s production techniques, and learned a lot from the experience. Campbell gave us an example of Lynne’s style: “We’d put the mics up on the drums, and he’d walk out and take the microphone over the drum and he’d turn it away from the drum facing the corner, and he’d go ‘OK, record it like that.’ Sure enough, 99% of the time he’d be right. We’d go, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Lynne.’ We learned so much from him about arrangements and countermelodies and all kinds of stuff.” (Check out our interview with Mike Campbell.)

The line, “Me and Del were singin,’ little ‘Runaway'” is a reference to the 1961 Del Shannon hit “Runaway.” Shannon is credited on the album for “barnyard noises,” which can be heard just after this song ends on the album. Under the animal noises, Petty says, “Hello CD listeners. We have come to the point in this album where those listening on cassettes or records will have to stand – up or sit down – and turn over the record or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we will now take a few seconds before we begin Side 2. Thank you, and here is Side 2.”

In 2007, the documentary Runnin’ Down A Dream was released. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the film chronicles the career of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. >>

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played this at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in 2008. Rather than the usual medley of hits, the band played four full songs, the others being “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’.”

Hello CD Listeners

Runnin’ Down A Dream

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
I was flyin’

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I felt so good like anything was possible
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I rolled on as the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

40 thoughts on “Tom Petty – Running Down a Dream … Full Moon Fever Week”

      1. No I can’t do that one…I’ve already done it in the past…it’s a silly one but it always stuck out…and I haven’t heard it a million times….I do like that one though also.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmmm well my other fav is yer so bad…so outside of that I’m out of guesses! There’s a few on the album I don’t know well though so Ill be interested to see what you post.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I had the “Full Moon Fever” album, and this was my favorite song. After a while, it was the only song I could listen to on the album. I love the Max Fleischer-esque cartoon in the official video.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that also…it’s great.
      This album was the strongest one by him in my opinion. He drew Betty Boop right?


      1. Yes….I barely got up the stairs to go to bed….this morning when I got up it took me awhile to get back down here…after around 10 my back was loosening up…We will see if it continues. I’ve been up today…thats a lot more than yesterday


      2. Thats the thing Vic…It doesn’t take anything but to be’s usually in bed…..
        Get that thought out of your head lol…no it’s when I sleep. 9 out of 10 times it’s how I sleep


      3. You know my mind was gonna go there… LOL!

        That is something my dad would say was “sleeping in the pretzel position.” He was familiar.

        Are we talking lower back, middle back or neck area?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. lower middle…where it sends electrical charges to the knee…the right side mostly. I’ve went to the doctor before and they say the same thing…advanced arthritus…they always say that. One time I did get 8 cortizone shots in my back and it cleared it up…it’s not worth going to do that….epecially now with all of the cooties about lol…and 2 slipped discs I had a long ago.


      5. Yes I’ve had one of those before…I need to find it again. The hanging upside down has helped also…I’m getting to the point where I can now….but yes I love those electrical shocks…I turn them up to 11


  2. Such a wicked guitar riff that just goes and goes. So good you don’t want it to end. One of the best Petty tracks I think and 31 years later and we still love it. Thats saying something!
    Great pick!


  3. I think you mentioned on another song from this album that Lynne, Orbison, and Harrison played on it. How could a record with these 4 on it be bad. After reading the background story and the lyrics, I like it even better. Good life philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a big comeback from Let Me Up which we both agree a major disappointment. I don’t know if this is my favorite Petty album but its on my Mount Rushmore of Petty.

    Liked by 1 person

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