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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers — Learning To Fly
Album: Into The Great Wide Open
Avg rating:
7.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1586









Released: 1991
Length: 3:53
Plays (last 30 days): 2
Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well the good ol' days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn

I'm learning to fly ''(learning to fly)''
But I ain't got wings ''(learning to fly)''
Coming down ''(learning to fly)''
Is the hardest thing ''(learning to fly)''

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I've started out for God knows where
I guess I'll know when I get there

I'm learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up ''(learning to fly)''
Must come down ''(learning to fly)''

I'm learning to fly ''(learning to fly)''
But I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

I'm learning to fly ''(learning to fly)''
Around the clouds
But what goes up ''(learning to fly)''
Must come down

I'm learning to fly (learning to fly)
''(Learning to fly)''
I'm learning to fly
''(Learning to fly)''
''(Learning to fly)''
''(Learning to fly)''
''(Learning to fly)''
Comments (108)add comment
This song holds up so well after 30 years.  It says so many things to so many different people.  
This track was recorded 30 years ago.   It's so good, it sounds better than yesterday. 
 bob_lee1 wrote:
Who learned to fly first, Tom Petty or Pink Floyd?   Who sings better, Tom Petty or Bob Dylan? 
 

 bob_lee1 wrote:
Who learned to fly first, Tom Petty or Pink Floyd? 
 

part of the soundtrack of my life. Saw TP for the first and last time at the Hollywood Bowl, about two weeks before he flew away for good. I had heard his music so many times on the radio I grew numb to it. My friend had an extra ticket, so I tagged along. Seeing him live and singing along with hundreds to his songs reminded me what an impact he had on me and our culture where I'm from. 
Who learned to fly first, Tom Petty or Pink Floyd? 
 On_The_Beach wrote:
So many great songs.
Miss ya, Tom.

 
I have to agree, and overall such great optimism in his music.
So many great songs.
Miss ya, Tom.
he has wings now
and he earned every feather
RIP TP
{#Notworthy}
Good god, enough is enough.  RP has been playing 2 - 4 Petty songs per day since he died.  Why not do that for Bowie, who was IMO in a much better league than Petty and whose work remains far more diverse and evolved than Petty's, so please get out of the rut?  (Oh yeah, I can hear the screaming begin)
Love this. RIP Tom Petty.
You fly Tom...soar with wings like eagles {#Meditate}
Simple but evocative rock n roll. A well crafted heartening sing along piece.  
 LPCity wrote:

I'll always remember seeing Tom play this song on the Wildflowers tour in August of 1995.  It was just a few days after Jerry Garcia had passed.  Tom made a simple but heartfelt speech about Jerry and dedicated this song to him.  He started out playing it very restrained and quiet, just him and his guitar.  The Heartbreakers joined in on the second verse, quietly at first then building it up to a joyful loud finish.

Maybe Tom played this song that same way often, but it didn't feel like it that night.  It felt like genuine, spur of the moment honesty. 



 
Thank you LPCity, that is a beautiful piece!
 cosmiclint wrote:
I am a member in good standing of the Tom Petty Can Do No Wrong club!

 
Second that.  Instantly perked up when I heard this song!  What the heck, bumping up the rating!
 rushed wrote:
3 chords and a sunburst Rickenbacker...ain't nothin' wrong with that.

 
Amen

I'll always remember seeing Tom play this song on the Wildflowers tour in August of 1995.  It was just a few days after Jerry Garcia had passed.  Tom made a simple but heartfelt speech about Jerry and dedicated this song to him.  He started out playing it very restrained and quiet, just him and his guitar.  The Heartbreakers joined in on the second verse, quietly at first then building it up to a joyful loud finish.

Maybe Tom played this song that same way often, but it didn't feel like it that night.  It felt like genuine, spur of the moment honesty. 


3 chords and a sunburst Rickenbacker...ain't nothin' wrong with that.
I am a member in good standing of the Tom Petty Can Do No Wrong club!
I'm still a bit burned out by the Wilburys sound, 25 years after the fact, and early Petty is generally better than later Petty. But this one isn't too bad. 6.

Everybody in my mushrooming multitude of churches loves this song...

 LizK wrote:
Tom Petty makes me smile, my foot tap, my bottom rock. Such a happy rocker. What more do I need? {#Jump}
 
Whoa!  Well said, Liz!  I agree.  8—>9
 rockpommel16 wrote:
...agreed....worst petty song ever imo....
 
if this is his worst, I wouldn't mind hearing his best...

7
Tom Petty makes me smile, my foot tap, my bottom rock. Such a happy rocker. What more do I need? {#Jump}
at least its not bed time music. keep me awake RP im going rounds with the sandman.  -mechanic2
 ziakut wrote:
Mediocre at best. 
  ...agreed....worst petty song ever imo....


One of Tom's large number of enjoyable, "tuney" songs, if only a 7.  Only tasteless Philistines would object to it.
Mediocre at best. 
Petty's music is straightforward American R and R.  Good stuff, I never get tired of it.  Live shows are lots of fun, and always entertaining.  The band is TIGHT from years of working together.  Can't ask for much more than that.


 capandjudy wrote:
What is not to like??

 

Nothing, but there is nothing to like either. It is just there and has been there WAY too much.
Thankful I am not listening!{#Meditate} I reckon I have heard this mediocre song quite enough!
Learning to undo my fly yawn..... it was never a good song.
I was actually watching a baby Hummingbird learning to fly 10 feet from me when this song started. luv it
 
 On_The_Beach wrote:

I disagree. One of my fave Tom tunes!
 
I agree with On:The_beach


 acolt wrote:

Petty doesn't seem to do a lot with progression in his songs. What you hear is what you get. The thing about Petty is that he does so much with what is usually a simple chord progression and backing riff. It's catchy, it's listenable, and it's musically juuuust complicated enough to hold the ear,  at least for me. Last Dance With Mary Jane, my favorite Petty song, is, to me, the best of what Petty does.
 
He pretty much has always stayed in the traditional-progression, roots music vein.  He does it very well and there's little reason for him to stray from it.  I don't necessarily consider him to be formulaic, but I wouldn't expect to hear anything "experimental" or musically complicated from him either.  It works for them; why would they deviate?
 acolt wrote:

Petty doesn't seem to do a lot with progression in his songs. What you hear is what you get. The thing about Petty is that he does so much with what is usually a simple chord progression and backing riff. It's catchy, it's listenable, and it's musically juuuust complicated enough to hold the ear,  at least for me. Last Dance With Mary Jane, my favorite Petty song, is, to me, the best of what Petty does.
 
He pretty much has always stayed in the traditional-progression, roots music vein.  He does it very well and there's little reason for him to stray from it.  I don't necessarily consider him to be formulaic, but I wouldn't expect to hear anything "experimental" or musically complicated from him either.  It's all safe, why deviate?
 Misterfixit wrote:
Has a lot of Travelling Wilbury's in it or they have a lot of this in them for this track.
 
Agreed - a strong Travelling Pillsbury influence. . . too bad. . . 

Has a lot of Travelling Wilbury's in it or they have a lot of this in them for this track.
 ziakut wrote:
I really find this banal and dull. It's produced well and normally I do like Tom Petty...but this is just so damn simple and safe. Simple can be good...but this just isn't. Petty is capable of so much more...and he proves it with his latest two releases.
 
I disagree. One of my fave Tom tunes!

 acolt wrote:

Petty doesn't seem to do a lot with progression in his songs. What you hear is what you get. The thing about Petty is that he does so much with what is usually a simple chord progression and backing riff. It's catchy, it's listenable, and it's musically juuuust complicated enough to hold the ear,  at least for me. Last Dance With Mary Jane, my favorite Petty song, is, to me, the best of what Petty does.
 

What Some people love about Tom Petty's writing is the same thing Other people don't like about Petty (or certain songs).

Not only does do he and the Heartbreakers write some of the all-time-best-hooks in R 'n R, but there are songs where they are repeated and this is one.

That said, this song and most of his others work for me! 

What is not to like??

I really find this banal and dull. It's produced well and normally I do like Tom Petty...but this is just so damn simple and safe. Simple can be good...but this just isn't. Petty is capable of so much more...and he proves it with his latest two releases.
All-time best-of-the-best highest of the high and doesn't come down. Ever
Upon hearing this come on, I involuntarily yelled "AWESOME!"

I think that's a 9...
 sine-quinn-non wrote:
Hmm.. I hate to rain on parades and I make an effort to comment more often when the comment is a positive one.  But my first thought when I heard this song was, BORING.  I guess that is a function of being overplayed, but the song doesn't do much for me even if I try not to think about how often I have heard it. 

 
Petty doesn't seem to do a lot with progression in his songs. What you hear is what you get. The thing about Petty is that he does so much with what is usually a simple chord progression and backing riff. It's catchy, it's listenable, and it's musically juuuust complicated enough to hold the ear,  at least for me. Last Dance With Mary Jane, my favorite Petty song, is, to me, the best of what Petty does.
I heard an interview where he and, I think, his keyboardist have been working together for 40 years.  Wow. 

Love their music.  For those strumming along at home, it's F, C, Am, G.
I like this tune, but the lyrics remind me of Dr. Seuss.
TP and his HB's (who have very much to do with TP's compositions and sound) are some of the most talented American musicians working today.  The quality of their canon of work will stand up to any comparison.
Hmm.. I hate to rain on parades and I make an effort to comment more often when the comment is a positive one.  But my first thought when I heard this song was, BORING.  I guess that is a function of being overplayed, but the song doesn't do much for me even if I try not to think about how often I have heard it. 

GodLikeGodLikeGodLikeGodLikeGodLikeGodLike!!!!!!11

This cranks pretty well...a well-oiled groove machine.
Here is my favorite album of Tom Petty! And the picture is also a favorite. MOJO loses it in all positions.


Pretty cool, huh?
 bitterdave wrote:
This is the first sign of the decline of Tom Petty.  It has none of the edge of Rebel, Refugee, even Southern Accents, etc.  It seems as if at some point in the late 80s he went into a studio with a 12 string guitar and strummed for, I dunno, 18 hours straight, and then sang along with whatever elevator music he'd played.  Then he released several really boring albums based on mailing it in.

I love guitar / acoustic stuff, but this is just . . . blah.
 
That's a bit short sighted.  The real story is that by this album TP was just Jeff Lynne-d out....  When you consider the Full Moon Fever album plus The Wilburys, this album has nothing to offer but fluff.  It should have been called FMF II.  Even as I listen to this now I only hear Jeff Lynne, not Petty.  

I think he returned to form with Wildflowers.  That was a solid album for a veteran rocker, and one which still holds up IMO.


This song is fun to sing
This is the first sign of the decline of Tom Petty.  It has none of the edge of Rebel, Refugee, even Southern Accents, etc.  It seems as if at some point in the late 80s he went into a studio with a 12 string guitar and strummed for, I dunno, 18 hours straight, and then sang along with whatever elevator music he'd played.  Then he released several really boring albums based on mailing it in.

I love guitar / acoustic stuff, but this is just . . . blah.

I never liked this song. I don't know why. I have heard it a whole lot on the radio and I still have not got a taste for it. I'm always happy when it's over.
I had to listen to this song way to many times in my life....
Learning fly...flaps at 20 and full take-off thrust!!!
Superb, particularly cvr art

8
One of the greatest songs ever written (in my opinion),,,,,wish I could fly.....
makes me, kind of hovering in stereo center position,,,{#Propeller}   # 9

Nice music
Nice cover
this song cheers me up from chord 1
What goes up, must come down.

But so far, I've still got this at a 10.
For some reason, this track sounds very decadant to me today.  Perhaps I need a holiday (which is what we call vacations)!
 jpfueler wrote:
Learning To Drive, But I Ain't Got Brakes!
 

{#Lol}
Learning To Drive, But I Ain't Got Brakes!

Tom Petty & Traveling Wilburys; in both the versions the song is very well obtained  - 

** 9 **

mandolin wrote:
...this production feels sooooooo good washing over my ears... :good-vibes:
Well said. Maybe Bill should call this RP listener-supported ear candy!! :music: :music: :music:
Awesome segue, RP! Sixties to the nineties! College tripping to cross-country family driving! Thanks. It's time to send you another check!!!!!!
...this production feels sooooooo good washing over my ears... :good-vibes:
Love how he sings it live nowadays, much slower and almost hymnal. (click here)
got me some tickets to see him at the Hollywood Bowl this summer :biggrin: - looking forward to it!
:propeller:
xkolibuul wrote:
I try really hard to dislike Tom Petty cause his politics are rotten, but...he's just too good. I groove on nearly everything he does. Grrrr.
What you talking about with "his politics or rotten"?
xkolibuul wrote:
I try really hard to dislike Tom Petty cause his politics are rotten, but...he's just too good. I groove on nearly everything he does. Grrrr.
I'm ignorant of his politics, but I'm groovin' too!
I try really hard to dislike Tom Petty cause his politics are rotten, but...he's just too good. I groove on nearly everything he does. Grrrr.
slugore wrote:
Perhaps a bit too Wilbury.
Way too Wilbury and not enough Petty...
lawman wrote:
After the previous Jeff Tweedy 'sunken treasure' this shines like pure gold in the sunlight ...
That's because THIS is music.
Great album! :dancingbanana: :motor:
After the previous Jeff Tweedy \'sunken treasure\' this shines like pure gold in the sunlight ...
slugore wrote:
Not his best song. Perhaps a bit too Wilbury. But I always love to hear TP. Would love to hear "You got lucky babe" for a little zippy taste of the 80's
Perhaps Tom was a much larger part of the TW's than we are led to believe. More likely Jeff Lynne though, since he produced both - if my memory serves. Still liking it.
:bananajam:
h_in_bristol wrote:
Very nice. Wonder how many "Learning To Fly" are out there
Tom Petty Pink Floyd Foo fighters (almost)
Very nice. Wonder how many "Learning To Fly" are out there
Not his best song. Perhaps a bit too Wilbury. But I always love to hear TP. Would love to hear "You got lucky babe" for a little zippy taste of the 80's
American rock from TP. Excellent. A smart and unique perspective IMO
As a pilot. . .I just absolutely love this song.
I dislike songs about flying.
Whole lotta memories come flooding back with this song. Thanks RP!
A dash of Wilburys, a skosh of "Bette Davis Eyes"...
JokesandJokesandJokes wrote:
how about "yardsale sucks"
Even if you don't particularly care for the vocal style of TP, geeesh, get over it and listen to the awesome song.
Just looooooooove it! Great guitarplaying in the middle too. :)
yardsale wrote:
How about "learning to sing?"
how about "yardsale sucks"
How about "learning to sing?"
Always enjoyed Petty immensely. Thanks, RP, for playing him here. :clap:
Great song into the great wide open sky...
Fly theme?
I was just thinking of suggesting more Tom Petty... perfect choice!
Tom Petty has song song that I really like and some that I really don\'t like. This is one I don\'t like, it just doesn\'t seem to do anything for me.
This song always sounds like most Tom Petty...unimaginative, dreadfuly annoying, and painfully up and down vocals (a Petty trademark). This is what happens when an artist runs out of fresh material long ago. Sorry to say, but my local "programmed" classic rock station plays this song seeminly every hour....or is it Freefalling, or Baby Jane or....ah heck, they all sound like the same tune.