Runnin' Down a Dream

by Tom Petty • Lesson #106 • Apr 21, 2023

Hey there, friends! In this lesson I’ll teach you how to play Tom Petty’s 1989 classic Runnin’ Down a Dream. This is an amazingly fun song to play, and is actually quite beginner-friendly! I’ll walk you through the intro riff, chord shapes, and strumming — including plenty of intermediate tips for those of you looking to add some extra spice to things. Let’s jump on into it… as always, I hope you enjoy!

  • 0:00 Lesson Overview
  • 1:01 Intro Riff
  • 5:13 Verse
  • 7:31 Chorus
  • 10:50 Refrain
  • 11:38 Adv. Chord Options

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 2 pages

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Lesson Discussion

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Extended Video Lessons

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Play-Along Cover

Here’s a start-to-finish acoustic cover, showing how things sound when you put it all together.

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Acoustic + Electric, Combined

Here’s how you can use the advanced chord voicings (shown in my main tutorial) during the verse and refrain sections. In this video, I’ll play these chords using my electric guitar, while my acoustic plays the “normal” versions of those same chords.

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Backing Tracks

Here’s some drums-only backing tracks you can use to practice playing this song. Whether you’re working on the intro riff, any of the specific sections, or the entire song — these will be of great help! The drums match the general vibe of Petty’s recorded version. I’ve included three versions at different tempos. Enjoy!

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Full Speed (170bpm) (download):

Medium Speed (140bpm) (download):

Slower Speed (115bpm) (download):

My Original Video Lesson

For the sake of posterity, here’s my original video lesson — which I published back in November 2017. My audio quality is a bit tinny, hence me re-recording this lesson in 2023 (above).

Chords needed

If you need help with the chords used in this song, check out these lessons from my Beginner Chord Guide course:

Tom Petty’s Album Version

Music Theory Breakdown

Huge fan of this video! Desi breaks down the song section by section, explaining the theory behind things. Super informative if you want a deeper understanding of how the song works, especially given the strange combination of chords it uses. His website post includes some additional information in text form, if you’re curious.

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