American Girl – Tom Petty & Heartbreakers

August 29, 2021

Fun Facts

  • With jangly guitars and a driving rock beat, the song American Girl by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers is a bonafide classic. It was released as a single off of the self-titled 1976 album Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The single didn’t make the charts initially, but it eventually became one of the bands’ biggest hits and is often considered the best song Tom Petty wrote. It also ranks high as one of the best American singles of all time. The song was actually recorded on July 4th, 1976, the bicentennial of the United States.
  • There have been long-standing rumors about the lyrics in the song. When Tom sings about a girl on a balcony facing a “great big world,” the rumors began to float that the song was written about a college student who committed suicide. Tom Petty later disputed this theory when he said the inspiration came from the place he was living at the time. He said he thought the cars going by on the freeway sounded like the ocean, inspiring the lyrics.
  • The classic rock staple has also been used to soundtrack many movies and TV shows, including The Silence of the Lambs, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Sopranos.
  • Today, the song “American Girl” is classic rock canon, and it is often hailed as one of the 100 greatest guitar songs ever.
  • It may have been released quietly but slowly grew into a universally loved rock anthem that is sure to perk up any dive bar in America.
SOTD lyrics



Well she was an American girl

Raised on promises

She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there

Was a little more to life

Somewhere else

After all it was a great big world

With lots of places to run to

Yeah, and if she had to die tryin’

She had one little promise

She was gonna keep

Oh yeah, alright

Take it easy baby

Make it last all night

She was an American girl

Well, it was kind of cold that night

She stood alone on her balcony

Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by

Out on 441

Like waves crashin’ on the beach

And for one desperate moment there

He crept back in her memory

God it’s so painful

Something that’s so close

And still so far out of reach

Oh yeah, alright

Take it easy baby

Make it last all night

She was an American girl




Oh yeah