Tom Petty may not have set out for a Hollywood career, but there’s no question that his music has made an impact on the movies. And if you’re familiar with his songs, that’s no surprise.
His music feels epic and down-to-earth at the same time – they’re exactly the kind of songs you hear when you envision a movie of your life. Or maybe it just feels that way to me because I grew up on films that had him on their soundtracks.
He’s been deployed on some of the best films of the past four decades, even soundtracking an entire film at one point. And his influence hasn’t waned one bit – his work could be heard on Cars 3 just a few months ago, and he even dropped a new song in a movie a few years ago.
Below are just a few of his best movie moments.
“American Girl,” Fast Times at Ridgemont High
One of the earliest uses of Petty’s music in the movies comes in one of the best teen movies ever made: Fast Times at Ridgemont High. “American Girl” kicks in as we get to know the school grounds, setting an energetic tone for the rest of the movie.
“American Girl,” The Silence of the Lambs
About a decade after Fast Times, “American Girl” made its way into a very, very different classic. The song’s easygoing vibe makes for a jarring contrast with the horrific abduction and murder that follows.
“Free Fallin’,” Jerry Maguire
Actually, Tom Petty is something of a favorite for car-singers, both in real life and in the movies. Just ask Tom Cruise, who gleefully belts it out in Jerry Maguire after a professional victory.
Soundtrack, She’s the One
Petty’s music has served as the backdrop for plenty of significant cinematic moments (just look at the three listed above, for starters), but there was only one time that he soundtracked an entire film – the 1996 romcom She’s the One.
“Somewhere Under Heaven,” Entourage
Okay, so the Entourage movie isn’t all that great. But it did look past the usual Petty selections to debut “Somewhere Under Heaven,” a never-before-heard track that had originally been intended for Petty’s 1994 album Wildflowers.