Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream

“Runnin’ Down a Dream” isn’t your dime-a-dozen rock doc.

Drummer Stan Lynch says “bye” in ’94, changing the band’s sound overnight.

Cut to Rick Rubin, the bearded sage, spurring Petty’s solo flight.

Super Bowl 2006? They steal the show with “I Won’t Back Down.”

Now, toss in Bob Dylan, not just an influence but a tour mate in ’86.

Numbers? Try 80 million albums sold. And, oh, the hits: “American Girl,” “Free Fallin’,” each with its own creation saga. This is a portrait, folks–warts, masterpieces, and all.

And there’s even courtroom drama…Petty locks horns with MCA Records, wrestling for artist rights in a 1979 lawsuit.

Got your attention? You bet.

Trailer for Runnin’ Down a Dream

Where to Watch Tom Petty and Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream

You can watch the Runnin’ Down a Dream:


  • Genre: Rock Music, Biography
  • Release Date: October 29, 2007
  • Director: Peter Bogdanovich
  • Narrator: N/A
  • Duration: 239 minutes

My Favorite Parts & Highlights (Includes Spoiler Alerts!)

  • “Runnin’ Down a Dream”: The doc’s namesake song, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” was co-written by Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, and Jeff Lynne. The song hit No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989.
  • The Gainesville Scene: The doc explores the band’s early years in Gainesville, Florida, revealing its initial struggles to break into the music industry.
  • Creative Process: Viewers gain insight into Petty’s songwriting process, including the creation of iconic songs like “Free Fallin'” and “American Girl.”
  • Collaborations: The film highlights Petty’s work with other artists like Stevie Nicks and George Harrison, showcasing his versatility.
  • Rick Rubin’s Role: Famed producer Rick Rubin collaborated with the band for their 1996 album “Wildflowers.” His influence led to a more stripped-down, acoustic sound for several tracks.
  • Struggles and Lawsuits: The band faced multiple lawsuits and contract disputes, most notably with their record label, MCA, over artist rights.
  • Lineup Changes: Drummer Stan Lynch’s departure in 1994 signaled a major lineup change, affecting the band’s dynamics and sound.
  • Influences: The doc delves into the band’s musical influences, including Bob Dylan and The Byrds, highlighting their impact on the Heartbreakers’ style.
  • Traveling Wilburys: Tom Petty was part of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, alongside George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. The doc shows how this project broadened Petty’s musical scope.
  • Live Performances: Their 2006 Super Bowl show (American Girl, I Won’t Back Down and Free Fallin’), showcasing was iconic.
  • Stepping into Films: Tom Petty made an appearance in the 1997 film “The Postman,” starring Kevin Costner. Although not central to the doc, it reveals Petty’s reach into other forms of entertainment.

A Cool Scene

TOM PETTY: “This is the last song.”
BAND MEMBER: “Are you sure?”
TOM PETTY: “It’s the end, man.”
[long pause]
BAND MEMBER: “Let’s make it count.”

Thanks for reading!

-Rob Kelly