A track from the first Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album, "American Girl" was never a hit, but it became one of their most popular songs. Part of its lasting appeal is its intrigue, as it is the subject of an urban myth that reads as follows:
The University of Florida is located in Petty's hometown of Gainesville, Florida. A dorm at the school, Beatty Towers, provided the backdrop to a popular urban legend at UF as well as the story behind this song. The story was that there was this virginal, All-American, debutante sort of girl, blonde locks and all, who decided to take hallucinogens for the first time while in her room at Beatty Towers. This being the 1960's and the age of limitless possibilities, it was pretty common to do something like that, especially in a college setting. Apparently, the girl thought she could fly, so she exited through the window and arrived face first on the concrete below. Some modern minstrels like to add that she jumped from the 13th floor, but this is probably part of campus lore. This incident was a big deal in Gainesville, which was still a picturesque Southern college town. It represented the end of innocence experienced by baby-boomers during the 1970's. Using it as inspiration, Tom Petty wove a captivating and poignant song based on this story for his first album and the rest is history. Expanding on the concept of innocence lost, this song speaks volumes and resonates even today. Beatty Towers are by State Road 441, which is mentioned in the second verse.