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Album: Into The Great Wide OpenReleased: 1991Charted:
Many people assume that this song is about drugs, but it isn't. Petty got the idea for it when he saw a pilot being interviewed on TV. The pilot said how it wasn't hard learning to fly... the hardest part was coming down.
The song was informed by the political events of the time, specifically the Gulf War, as well as the band dynamics - Into The Great Wide Open was a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album, whereas Petty's previous album, Full Moon Fever, was a solo album (although guitarist Mike Campbell played on every song and helped produce it). "I wanted that song to be a kind of redemptive song, only in the vaguest way, certainly not literally," he told Billboard.
The song was written in 1991 by Tom Petty and his Traveling Wilburys colleague, former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne. It is based on only four simple chords: F, C, A minor, and G.
Country trio Lady Antebellum covered this on their seven-song acoustic EP iTunes Session.