Video Review: Tom Petty “Free Fallin'”

Cars pass the Westside Pavilion, a mall located in Los Angeles, California. Tom Petty plays the guitar as he walks past the stores on the first level.

Petty, perched on a neighbor’s roof, watches a party for a sixteen-year-old young woman in Reseda, California in the 1950s. Her mother brings out the cake. Her best friend, holding an Elvis Presley record, sees the cake and her jaw drops. The young woman gazes at the picture of her boyfriend inside a frame. Her friends gather at the table set by the pool. The mother walks over to her daughter and points to the sky, where a heart is drawn in the sky. They both laugh.

At the mall, Petty walks down the skywalk and then takes the escalator back to the first level.

Some bikers eat their hot dogs at a table outside of Future Dogs. Two women buy some hot dogs and then walk to the Cadillac dealership. A man reaches out from his car and grabs one of the women’s butts. A third woman looks up from her horoscope to watch the commotion in the parking lot.

Petty watches the traffic on the street below.

Some preteen boys take the escalator to the first level at the mall. The cars change from 1950s models to 1980s updated versions. At the skate park, a group of teenage girls cheer on their boyfriends as they perform tricks on the ramp. Petty drives by and sees a splitting image of the sixteen-year-old young woman from the 1950s. A heart is drawn in the sky.  One of the young women rides the skateboard and performs tricks on the ramp.

Petty rides the elevator down in the mall. The preteen boys, grown into adults, ride down the escalator. Petty leaves the mall.

Rating: 3/5

At sixteen-years-old, Tom Petty was dating a kind young woman. On her birthday, he didn’t even ask her about her party nor did he come over with a gift. However, he did hire a skywriter to draw a heart in the sky.

After church on Sunday, she hugged him and thanked him. She thought he forgot her birthday. As he sat with her family at dinner, he believed she deserved better than him. He broke up with her a couple of days later at the Westside Pavilion. He’ll find someone else.

Twenty years later, he can’t forget her. As far he knows, she still lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. He walks the mall, looking for her. Sometimes, she shops with her daughter on the weekends. Her daughter is a tomboy and has competed in some skateboard competitions. She raised a tough young woman capable of taking care of herself. He turns away as he sees her husband cheering his daughter on and kissing her on the cheek.

It was a life he rejected. However, it’s one he wished he had.

Director: N/A Year: 1989

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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit ,Greatest City Collective, 45 Magazine ,Fevers of the Mind, Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kirstofia anthology. and forthcoming in Scrawl Place

One thought on “Video Review: Tom Petty “Free Fallin'”

  1. There is a scene in Free Fallin video wih a woman in a white shirt, glasses going down the escalator. does anyone know who this is?

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