S_V_H Runnin’ Down a Dream image 1

Tom Petty is gone and over the years although I play a lot of his music, for some unknown reason I have never painted one of his songs.  I am doing that now.  I pick his song Runnin’ Down a Dream for many reasons, but mostly because I thought of it as a car driving song.

Here is his video, and this is the first and last time that I will ever watched it.  I believe the theme of the video is a dream. But I don’t see this music in that way. For me this music over all these years, is a car song.  You play this song loud while driving and enjoying the freedom of the road.  Although, in today’s driving world, I have no memory of what freedom means.   A guess than,  I am reliving my past life in this song.  It is Tom Petty telling me that this is a car driving song, and  that this is the meaning of the freedom of the road and this is what it once felt like:

“It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
I was flyin’   ”

I grew up in rock music with Del Shannon and his classic song Runaway.  Hearing Del’s name and loving car songs,  and being raised in my youth on and in Mustangs, Runnin’ Down a Dream became an instant classic.

Let’s forget that awful video and turn to this classic live performance:


The main background colors of this artwork comes from Tom Petty’s 1984 Album Full Moon Fever.  Runnin’ Down a Dream was a hit single from that album.


Now, for the words used in this artwork I picked “Woo hoo, Woo hoo, Woo hoo.” My,  you don’t ask, why did I pick those words? I know they are not really part of the lyrics, but for me they say it all, covering all the emotions for this music.

I don’t think this will be the last Tom Petty song. I am too much into rock.  Of all the long list of great songs by Tom Petty I am leaning to also paint Learning to Fly. That song title is a good fit with Runnin’ Down a Dream.  My take on both of the titles is that they both summarize this moment of my artist career:  I am running down a dream, and I am also learning to fly.

Scott Von Holzen