Album: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (1977)
Charted: 40
  • At first, the distinctive guitar lick, courtesy of Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, was only used at the end of the song. A singer named Dwight Twilley came by the studio when Petty was playing it back and suggested they use it throughout the song. Petty liked the idea, and called the band back to the studio in the middle of the night to re-record it. Twilley, who had a hit in 1975 with "I'm On Fire," was signed to the same label as Petty, and was on the same career path for a while. Petty sang on some of Twilley's songs, including his 1984 hit "Girls."
  • Lyrically more sparse than most Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tracks, "Breakdown" finds Petty ready to end a union that has become toxic. "Go ahead and give it to me," he tells her.
  • When the band first recorded this song, it was 7-minutes long, with an extended guitar solo at the end. The final version clocks in at a tidy 2:43.
  • This was Petty's first single. When it was first released in January 1977 it went nowhere, but after months of touring, it was re-released in October and made it to #40 in the US.
  • This was featured in the 1978 movie FM. About a radio station in California, the movie was the basis for the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. This was also included on the soundtrack.

Comments: 16

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: {10-02-2017}
    Tom Petty was found in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu, California mansion Sunday night, October 1st, 2017, and was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center. He was found to have no brain activity and his family chose to terminate life support Monday (October 2)...
    The Gainesville, Florida native was just short of his 67th birthday. Tom's interest in rock music began after meeting Elvis Presley on the set of the King's movie, Follow That Dream" in 1961. He formed a band called the Epics that became Mudcrutch and moved to Los Angeles to record with Shelter Records. Though the band broke up, three of the members formed the Heartbreakers and in 1977, they charted with "Breakdown" (#40). Slowly other hits followed, including "Don't Do Me Like That" (#10-1980), "Refugee" (#15-1980) and "The Waiting (#19-1981). Tom also reached #3 in 1981 with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"— a duet with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. Joining with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne of ELO, Tom recorded as the Traveling Wilburys (where he was known as Junior Wilbury) and released two hit albums. He appeared in the movies "FM" and "Made In Heaven" and he and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2002...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 30th 1977, "Breakdown" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on February 12th, 1978 it peaked at #40 {for 1 week} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #40 on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    Between 1977 and 1996 the band has twenty-five Top 100 records; with two making the Top 10, "Don't Do Me Like That" at #10 in 1979 and "Free Fallin'" at #7 in 1989...
    And in 1981, in a duet with Stevie Nicks, the band reached #3 on the Top 100 with "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"...
    Tom Petty celebrated his 64th birthday ten days ago on October 20th {2014}.
  • Ian from Hillburgh, OnJenny, thats not how I see the song at all. When I was younger I used to listen to this song all the time and I always took the line "Take me through the night" as a way of saying get me through the dark times. Meaning at least that part of the song was more of a "Get me through this" idea to me.
  • Jeff from Boston, MaDan? Seriously? you've got to be kidding me... Date Rape? Sounds like your mind is wandering down a road that I don't think you want it to.
  • Michael from Staten Island, NyPretty sure this song was covered by Guns n' Roses in one of their Use Your Illusions. Might actually be a cover of a different version of Breakdown, but I don't know.
  • Kenzi from Riverside, Uthmmm... not sure which way it goes... it could go either way it just depends on how you interpret it. I can see it as him trying to convince her to give him a chance however I can also see it as a struggling relationship and realizing that it may be falling apart but its ok. I do not agree that this is an "anthem to date rape". Not at all. Your reading way too much into the words... unless you have facts that just an opinion but I guess everyone has one :)
  • Jenny from North Vernon, Inwow.. hes tryin to convince a girl to break down & do it with im. hello! "take me through the night"
  • Steve from Boston, MaThe Live version is hands-down the only version to listen to....the audience does great job!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScYeah I agree James.
  • James from Westchester, EnglandReading the lyrics, it certainly doesn't seem like a breakup song. But his rambling monologue on the live version sure sounds like a bloke trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to convince himself that a separation is fine with him.

    "If you want to go, you just go, baby..."
  • Dan from Salt Lake, UtThis song is an anthem to date rape. Listen to the lyrics and you'll see, nice, huh?
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScMarty from California. I agree. The song seems to be ablut trying to get some one to take chance. Maybe on dating a guy or falling in love. I'm not sure.
  • William from Brentwood, TnThe live version of this is awesome - the audience sings half the song. Petty says "Y'all gonna put me out of a job"
  • Brian from Grand Forks, NdI hope that is a misprint because I wouldn't classify Dwight Twilley as a country singer... He's Pop or Rock if anything...

    Man "I'm On Fire" over that classification...
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InI think this song is about a man trying to convince a woman to go for it
  • Marty from Montague, CaThis song is not about a breakup. It's about trying to convince someone who is reluctant to date or fall in love or playing "hard to get" to take a chance on you, see?
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