Tom Petty

Dear 6 Red,

Yesterday was a sad day for the musical world. Tom Petty, who was known for many wonderful songs, died from a heart attack. 

He created and performed some great songs that many people admired. 

I would like you to listen to the following song and tell me what you think the lyrics mean. I have included a copy of the words for you to look at.

Lyrics can mean different things to different people so have a good listen, and tell me what you think.


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


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



51 thoughts on “Tom Petty

  1. Before you read, I want you to know that Tom Petty was a loved musician and he will be dearly missed. He was a great musician, may his body forever Rest In Peace and may his soul live on!

    The lyrics “I started out on a dirty road” means that he started life out not so good and he had not enjoyed it.
    “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings” means that he had trieed to do something really hard but he had really no support. The phrase “Coming down is the hardest thing” suggests that Tom was trying to back down from something but either he couldn’t because it was too hard for him or no one would let him to.”Well the good ol’ days may not return” this suggests that the older days where he enjoyed them are not coming back whether he likes it or not.”Some say life will beat you down, break your heart and steal your crown” may mean that he had lost some one very close and he just has to let it go as that person is gone and no matter what we do, they will never come back.
    Just to let you all know, these are my opinions and you don’t have to agree with me.
    Tom Petty

  2. I feel really depressed for there family because of there loss but this song shows great resilience and determination. She Tom petty was a great citizen and she made wonderful songs that if you listen to carefully has really powerful lyrics

  3. First of all R.I.P Tom Petty.
    The lyrics on this song are all quite upsetting. These lyrics make me feel sorrowful and upset because it says”Well I started out down a dirty road” that he had some problems when he was little. Also the people that lived with him were unsupportive or they didn’t like him.

  4. These lyrics tell me that you should try and never give up. Also you should believe in yourself and he is making progress on his way. Then at the end he had succeeded his big dream. In the middle he got stuck then he carry on.
    On his way he made lots of friend.

  5. Wow! What a powerful song! I have not heard it before but I must say I really enjoyed it- what a talented singer Tom Petty was!
    I really liked the way in which Tom Petty seemed to put all of his emotion into this song. His lyrics were especially powerful, particularly, “coming down is the hardest thing,” because it really emphasises how everybody has good times and good memories but it is especially hard when we “come down” from those good times and have to power through the bad ones and stay positive.
    The fact he sang, “I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings,” also suggests to me that he feels as if he is on an upward struggle- he wants to make his days better and happier by ‘flying away’ but he is finding it especially difficult. At least he was trying!
    To me, this really emphasises the importance of teamwork and friendship as when I am down or having a bad day, it is speaking to my friends, working with other people and sharing my favourite memories which makes me happier again. It is the little happy things which give us our metaphorical ‘wings’ and help us stay positive and ‘fly’.

    But I must say, I have read some lovely answers here! Well done everyone 👏

  6. From watching the song it tells me that he became a singer because of his dream
    Also he had some songs called “moon at the top” and some more like he waiting although he died people still listin to his songs.🤧

  7. These lyrics tell me that he started out walking along some streets and hills but then he discovered singing and thought to be a singer, so from there he had started his career.Its kind of like his life song.This also tells me that anyone can do anything, nothing is impossible:)

  8. Listening to this song I think that this song is really meaningful and fantastic,I think that this song means that if you don’t succeed don’t worry about it because you can try try again until you get it right.
    I think in my opinion that this song is about a lonely man who experienced a really tough life from the beginning but he has resilience in his heart and never gives up no matter what nothing can stop him from doing what he loves the most.😀

  9. I think even the first few lines were reallly heart touching becauase it means no helped him very much when he started out.When it says dirty road it possible could mean that no liked his song very much.while it said started out all alone it makes me feel that he didn’t have anyone by his side but it is important for some one to suppport you.Im learning to fly but ain’t got wings it means to me that he knows how to fly but no ones giving him any support.

  10. I enjoyed the song and the lyrics could have meant that he started of low and all the producers turned him down but he kept going like a bird learning to fly he kept on trying and built his way to the top and now he was one of the best singers in the world and so much people grieved for him after his sad sad death

  11. From watching this it told me that he started off alone and he didn’t have that much things with him but as time went on he got more things and it also told me that no matter who you are you should be proud of yourself.

  12. This song makes me feel depressed and sad because in the song it says sad words.For example the sun went down makes me feel that someone is walking by themself.Also where it says heart broke down it tells me that some is saying bad things to the other person or someone might be bossing them around.

  13. What a lovely song Mr Patel. I had not heard it before and I must say I liked it very much.
    A very meaningful song. This song basically states that although sometimes ‘life’ may beat you down, ‘break’ your heart and steal your crown we can all ‘Learn to fly’. I think it also comes to grips with the view that you can be optimistic, hopeful and as good a person as you want to be, but its not going to make life simple for you. Nothing will. You ‘learn to fly’ and take what comes your way. Be positive and never give up.

  14. The lyrics tell me that he started his career and it was very hard for him and it was his dream to become a singer.Maybe when he’s says when you life gets beat down maybe is has had a family problem or a family member died and he was really close with him and he learning to fly a plane but he can’t because he feels really sad.

  15. From watching this song to reading the lyrics. I knew that just from scanning the text this will be a heart breaking song and this is how. The lyrics from the very first line caught my attention because he had not lived a pretty life being famous but had experience something dreadful as it said “ well I started down a dirty road started out alone” this sentence says that he started all alone and not worthy enough. So far I think this story is telling about his life and from this song he is telling people that even a person like me can start down but can work their way up.
    The next line of the song is “ and the sun went down and I crossed the hill and saw the town lit up . The world stood still” I can see that that he is trying to forget the past and sometimes in life there are ups and down. He probably trying to start a fresh new life and try something new.

    The line “ I guess I’ll know when I get there” this is might be telling me that he hasn’t lived life to the fullest and want to keep on going on with experiencing and finding out stuff ; is not ready to let it go- not just yet.

    From the lyric “some say life will beat you down, break your heart and steal your crown” this tells me that you just have to let go ; you can’t keep on holding on to loved ones or family because that how life works it might not work how you want it to work.

    From Salma:
    I think that these lyrics are very heart warming as everyone can have ups and down in their life but if you are around positive people and have family with you you might not feel it.

  16. I think that the lyrics in the song meant that he first was all alone and had noboady to be with and nobody likdd him.The lyrics “I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got no wings”makes me think that maybe he is getting better at something and is improving and making progress.

  17. The lyrics that I understand are “Well started out down dirty road “ I understand that it has started down with the dusty road.
    The next lyric and it started next like a alone.
    And the sun went down as I crossed the hill.It has started down the sun and then it went down crossed the hill.
    The next lyric is “And the town lit,up the world is up still”. It means to me that the town just lit up the world up still.
    “I’m learning to fly,but I ain’t got wings”.It means to me that you are still learning how to fly but he hasn’t got wings.

  18. From reading these lyrics, this tells me that he started all alone and he is lonely ; he trying to learn to move on from the past and can’t forget what has happened to him. Maybe Tom Petty had experienced this in his life and written this song about this event. However in the chorus , it says ” Life will beat you down, break your heart and steal your Crown.” So maybe he has lost someone important in his life like a loved one and someone killed that person when it says ” Break your heart and steal your crown.” Another one, is “Well the good ol’ days may not return.” This tell me Tom petty was once happy in his life but can’t be happy again because something terrible has happened. Overall this whole song tell me he lost someone in his life and trying his hardest to move on from the past.

  19. For me I think that the lyrics for the first paragraph means that he started with nothing and he was all alone and soon he got better and better at what he was doing . For the chorus ,I think it means he was trying to do something but when he did it he wanted it to be over and wished it would not even happened. For the second chorus , it might mean that when you die you will be nothing and God will know which side you are going.

  20. This song could be Tom Petty singing a story about a little baby bird who’s wings haven’t fully developed and is trying to fly for the first time to leave its nest.

  21. First he started like down and then he rose and rose. He’s probably not free because it said”I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings”, this tells me that he wants to be free.
    BORN IN 1950 in florida his first group was mudcrutch.He wrote “learning to fly in 1989. Born in Gainesville,Florida.

  22. the lyrics for me mean that he first started out being bullied but then rose to become one of the best known singers.
    fun facts:
    he was born in 1950 in florida his first group was called mudcrutch.he wrote learning to fly in 1989.he was born in gainesville florida.

  23. These lyrics show that if people say you cannot do it, you could try to.It also shows that you don`t need any special things to do it, as it says he is learning to fly with no wings.So don`t let anyone get in your way, at least you try.
    This was my opinion, people may have different opinions.

    • You are right, people do have different opinions – as long as they express them in the correct way.

      I love what you have written. Good lad.

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