The Real Story About Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - American Girl (Live Aid 1985) - Live Aid / Youtube
When Tom Petty released his second solo album under his name in 1994, titled Wildflowers, he showed a more sensitive side of his musical personality. Since then, it has become a fan favorite and a personal favorite of both Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers.
Its opening track of the same name has also gone on to become an extremely successful and well-known song that’s beloved by fans and music-lovers alike. Inside the book Conversations With Tom Petty, the singer revealed how’d he come up with the song oh-so-easily. As he sat in his background recording studio, thinking about spring in the California open country, Petty started playing around with some chords. While in the studio, he hadn’t planned on writing any songs, but a phrase suddenly popped into his head: “You belong among the wildflowers/You belong on a boat out at sea.”
“Then [I] sat back and went, ‘Wow, what did I just do?’” Petty said. “And I listened to it. I didn’t change a word.”
Tom Petty had no idea who or where the inspiration for the song came from, but a rather interesting take that was pitched by Petty’s therapist as to what the meaning of the lyrics was for the singer came out. For Petty’s therapist, “Wildflowers” was simply Petty singing the things that he wanted to hear. Such realization knocked him back, but then he was assured that it made sense.
Ready to move on and proceed with life, that’s what “Wildflowers” was for Tom Petty. And it’s fascinating to know how conscious the singer was during the time of the production. But that’s what legends do.
Listen to the song here.