Into the Great Wide Open (song)

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"Into the Great Wide Open"
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
from the album Into the Great Wide Open
ReleasedSeptember 9, 1991
Songwriter(s)Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne
Producer(s)Tom Petty
Jeff Lynne
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singles chronology
"Learning to Fly"
"Into the Great Wide Open"
"Mary Jane's Last Dance"

"Into the Great Wide Open" is the third song on the 1991 album Into the Great Wide Open by the group Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the single, directed by Julien Temple, starred Johnny Depp as the protagonist, Eddie Rebel, as well as Gabrielle Anwar as Eddie's girlfriend and Faye Dunaway as his manager, and featured cameos by Terence Trent D'Arby, Chynna Phillips, and Matt LeBlanc.[1][unreliable source?] The video was shot during the filming of Arizona Dream, in which both Depp and Dunaway starred, which was on hiatus as its director Emir Kusturica had suffered a nervous breakdown. The song was extended in order to include more of the 18 minutes of footage Temple had created.

Fresh out of high school, Eddie catches a bus to Hollywood and meets a girl (Anwar) with the same tattoo: a heart impaled with a stiletto knife. They move into a motel-style apartment building. Eddie works as a doorman while his girlfriend teaches him to play guitar. Their landlady (Dunaway) turns out to be a cross between a fairy godmother and a svengali, managing his increasing success as a rock star.

Success quickly goes to Eddie's head. Things come to a peak when he excludes his manager from a red carpet event. Infuriated, she waves her magic wand (in the form of a cigarette holder) and breaks the spell, with disastrous results. Vanity Flaire magazine reports that Eddie's girlfriend is pregnant. He appears drunk and belligerent at an awards ceremony. He acts up during a music video shoot. Eddie's career quickly fizzles, his girlfriend leaves him, and the heart in his tattoo fades away. The story closes with Eddie returning to the tattoo parlor, where he finds a newcomer (LeBlanc) getting the same tattoo from a new tattoo artist (Depp). Tom Petty then closes the video with the classic fairy tale ending, sardonically, that "they all lived happily ever after".

Tom Petty took the line "a rebel without a clue" from the 1989 single "I'll Be You" by Minneapolis rock band The Replacements with whom he toured. The term was coined by Jim Steinman, who wrote "Rebel Without a Clue" for Bonnie Tyler on her 1986 release Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire.

Petty himself appears in the video playing multiple roles, including the narrator, the tattoo artist, Eddie's roadie Bart and a reporter. The other members of the Heartbreakers are also given cameos throughout the video. Lead guitarist Mike Campbell helps present the award to Eddie toward the end of the video, keyboardist Benmont Tench portrays Eddie's record producer, bassist Howie Epstein portrays a motorcycle dealer, and drummer Stan Lynch portrays the doorman who refuses to let Eddie's manager into the red carpet event. Petty's manager Tony Dimitriades is also given a cameo as the record label A&R man who signs Eddie into a recording contract.

Petty later commented that it was "one of the only times I've ever felt fulfilled by a video. I even had people coming to me wanting to make it into a movie."[2]


Chart (1991) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[3] 48
Canadian RPM Top Singles 23
Germany (Official German Charts)[4] 58
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[5] 92
U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks 4


  1. ^ http://www.mvdbase.com/video.php?id=21760
  2. ^ "Tom Petty's 50 Greatest Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Ultratop.be – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Into The Great Wide Open" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  4. ^ "Musicline.de – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  5. ^ "Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers". Billboard. Retrieved 29 October 2012.