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American Girl

Tom Petty Cover | 2009

“American Girl” is a cover of a song of the same name by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Taylor released her version digitally on June 30, 2009.
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Background and Release

Taylor and her band, The Agency, teamed up with Rhapsody and Verizon to record a cover version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” on the road while on the “Fearless Tour” in 2009. They used Rhapsody and Verizon’s mobile recording studio.

“American Girl” was released on June 30, 2009, with a video featuring exclusive footage captured on Taylor’s sold-out arena tour. The track was available for full-song download, ringtone download and ringback download. Nowadays, it isn’t available on streaming services.

In 2011, Taylor added “American Girl” to her pre-show playlist for the “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012). On June 2, 2011, she used one of the lyrics of this song for her infamous arm lyrics: “And for one desperate moment, he crept back in her memory”

Lyrical Theme

According to SongFacts, Tom Petty said of this song: “I wrote that in a little apartment I had in Encino. It was right next to the freeway, and the cars sometimes sounded like waves from the ocean, which is why there’s the line about the waves crashing on the beach. The words just came tumbling out very quickly — and it was the start of writing about people who are longing for something else in life, something better than they have.”

Second Performance

When Petty passed away in November 2017, Taylor was devastated and shared a poignant tribute to the late singer-songwriter about his work’s impact on her in Rolling Stone:

«To me, Tom Petty represented a kind of songwriting I idolised: complex simplicity. It said so much in the lyrics, the concepts, the stories, the message, the nuances … but always brought you back to a hook that got stuck in everyone’s head. He motivated thousands of guitarists to learn to play just because they wanted to be able to play ‘Free Fallin’. Count me as one of them.»


[Verse 1]
Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinking that there was a little more to life
Somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die trying
She had one little promise she was gonna keep

Oh yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

[Verse 2]
Well, it was kind of cold that night
She stood alone on her balcony
She could see the cars roll by out on 441
Like waves crashing on the beach
And for one desperate moment there
He crept back in her memory
God, it’s so painful
It’s something that’s so close but still so far out of reach

Oh yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

[Final Chorus]
Oh yeah, all right
Let’s take it easy, baby
And make it last all night
Oh yeah, all right
Let’s take it easy, baby
Oh, let’s take it easy now
Oh yeah, all right
She was an American girl

General Information
Associated ErasFearless Era
reputation Era
Cover ArtistTaylor Swift
Original ArtistTom Petty and The Heartbreakers
ReleasedJune 30, 2009
GenreCountry Rock
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwriterTom Petty
ProducerDenny Cordell
Official Audio
Live Cover 2017