Tonight, the annual award show for the Songwriters Hall of Fame will take place. The 2016 honorees including singer/ songwriter Tom Petty will receive their awards at a ceremony held New York City.
Recently, Petty sat down for an interview with Billboard and talked about his songwriting career. During the interview he talked about how he composed his huge solo hit “Free Fallin'”, which earned him the number 7 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1989.
Already having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the 65-year-old said he was sitting around trying to write a tune with his Traveling Wilburys band mate Jeff Lynne, and after working with a riff he written, he started singing what became the song’s first verse “really just to amuse Jeff.”
Petty told Billboard that Lynne said the word “freefalling” to him, and then asked Tom to try and sing it in a higher octave. Petty had said that when he tried, he wasn’t able to sing the whole word in one breath, so he sang “freeee” then “free falling.”
Petty added: “We both knew at that moment that I’d hit on something pretty good. It was that fast.”
Petty finished writing the last verse of “Free Fallin'” later that night, and the very next day he and Jeff Lynne took the tune to Heartbreakers guitar player Mike Campbell’s studio and laid down the track.
It was during the mixing of “Free Fallin’” that he and Lynne wrote another of his big hits, “I Won’t Back Down”.
He also admits that songwriting always came naturally to him, although he can’t explain why or how he does it. “Songs are kind of mystical and magical, there’s not a formula that brings them around,” he said. “Sometimes I sit down and wonder if I’ve ever done it before. It’s just something I was born with, mostly.”