American Dream Plan B

Album: Hypnotic Eye (2014)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song about a guy who perseveres in fighting for his chance was released as the first single off Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Hypnotic Eye album. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Petty admitted the song was a tough sell, as after playing it for the rest of the band their initial reaction was silence. "I said, 'Listen, I think we have something here, but we're going to have to get excited about it,'" he said.

    Eventually, Petty added laughing, the Heartbreakers admitted they loved the song, but he had to drag the affirmation out of them.
  • The song is laden with fuzz and distortion. Guitarist Mike Campbell told Uncut magazine: "It was Tom's idea to have fuzz bass on that song. He wanted it real spare and just to have this really ugly fuzz bass going on, which we've never really done. That was the inspiration for the whole approach to that."
  • Petty sings here of the vanishing American dream:

    Well, my mama so sad
    Daddy's just mad
    'Cause I ain't gonna have the chance he had
    My success is anybody's guess
    But like a fool, I'm bettin' on happiness


    "It's strange," Petty told The Sun. "The economy crashed because, aside from some very crooked people, you had Americans believing they could live way beyond what they could afford through loans."

    "That wouldn't have happened decades back, so it's part of my thinking," he added. "The guy in this song has decided to dream big, because there's nothing left for him to do. He has nothing."
  • Hypnotic Eye debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. It was Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' first chart-topper and it arrived atop the summit 37 years after they first appeared on the tally in September 1977 with their self-titled debut album.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.

Daniel Lanois

Daniel LanoisSongwriter Interviews

Daniel Lanois on his album Heavy Sun, and the inside stories of songs he produced for U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan.

Desmond Child

Desmond ChildSongwriter Interviews

One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."

Jeff Trott

Jeff TrottSongwriter Interviews

Sheryl Crow's longtime songwriting partner/guitarist Jeff Trott reveals the stories behind many of the singer's hits, and what its like to be a producer for Leighton Meester and Max Gomez.

Paul Stanley of Kiss, Soul Station

Paul Stanley of Kiss, Soul StationSongwriter Interviews

Paul Stanley on his soul music project, the Kiss songs with the biggest soul influence, and the non-make-up era of the band.

Glen Burtnik

Glen BurtnikSongwriter Interviews

On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.