110 Tom Petty Quotes on Life, Music, and Career

We’ve gathered these Tom Petty quotes to make you believe that you have the ability to build your own path and achieve your dreams.

Tom Petty was a musician known to be rebellious and bold. Over the years, Tom and his band made a place in rock history.

However, as famous as he was, he was still insecure around girls.

Wanting to be noticed, he put his feelings into his music in a rock ‘n roll style.

Learn more about his life, love, and career by reading the whole collection.

Start here.

And make sure to check out these Stevie Nicks quotes and Stevie Wonder quotes.

Best Tom Petty Quotes

1. “You belong among the wildflowers. You belong in a boat out at sea. You belong with your love on your arm. You belong somewhere you feel free.”

2. “I like to be an optimist, but I like to be a realist, too.”

3. “Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.”

4. “I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.”

5. “I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quit worrying about stupid things.”

6. “Take what you can, all you can carry. Take what you can and leave the past behind.”

7. “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

8. “The waiting is the hardest part, every day you get one more yard. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, the waiting is the hardest part.”

9. “Some say life will beat you down. Break your heart, steal your crown. So I’ve started out for God knows where, I guess I’ll know when I get there.”

10. “You believe what you want to believe.”

11. “What I’ve learned about marriage—you need to have each other’s back. You have to be a kind of team going through life.”

12. “She couldn’t help thinkin’ 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.”

13. “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

14. “If you’re not getting older, you’re dead.”

Famous Tom Petty Quotes

15. “I’m not exactly a guy who makes new friends easily.”

16. “What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing but under my feet. Baby, grass is growing. It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.”

17. “Workin’ on a mystery. Goin’ wherever it leads. Runnin’ down a dream.”

18. “Excuse me if I have some place in my mind where I go from time to time.”

19. “You and I will meet again when we’re least expecting it. Somewhere in some far off place. I will recognize your face. I won’t say goodbye to my friend. For you and I will meet again.”

20. “Run away, let your heart be your guide.”

21. “If you’re phony, they will feel it in the farthest row of the arena. You have to really care. And you have to make yourself care time and time again.”

22. “Well, I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”

23. “I want to be successful. Not just money. Just making a successful record and a successful show. I could feel successful without selling a million records.”

24. “I feel sorry for kids these days. They get so much homework. Remember the days when we put a belt around our two books and carried them home? Now they’re dragging a suitcase. They have school all day, then homework from 6 until 11. There’s no time left to be creative.”

25. “Yeah and it’s over before you know it. It all goes by so fast. Yeah, the bad nights take forever and the good nights don’t ever seem to last.”

26. “The music has to be affordable. It’s the common man that keeps it going, and if you price it out of his realm, it becomes a thing of the elite.”

27. “Stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ‘til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does.”

28. “People come, people go. Some grow young, some grow cold. I woke up in between a memory and a dream.”

29. “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.”

Inspirational Tom Petty Quotes

30. “Go after what you really love and find a way to make that work for you, and then you’ll be a happy person.”

31. “As time goes by, you seem to weed out the things that were making your life hard.”

32. “That’s the way it goes, it will all work out.”

33. “I don’t know, but I’ve been told, ‘You never slow down, you never grow old.’”

34. “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.”

35. “I developed a problem with authority. Any time that authority was what I interpreted as being unjust, I stood up to it, and that became my personality.”

36. “Everybody got somebody to lean on. Put your body next to mine and dream on.”

37. “I’m learning to fly around the clouds but what goes up must come down.”

38. “If you can’t take the attitude that even losers get lucky, I don’t see how you can face life.”

39. “And if you follow your feelings, and you follow your dreams, you might find the forest there in the trees.”

40. “Sometimes you’re happy. Sometimes you cry. Half of me is ocean. Half of me is the sky.”

41. “If you spend a lot of time thinking about your career, you don’t have one.”

42. “You need eagle wings to get over things that make no sense in this world.”

43. “I don’t think I’ve walked away ever thinking, ‘Ah, that’s perfect.’ I do the best I can. That’s what keeps me coming back.”

44. “There’s something good waiting down this road. I’m picking up whatever is mine.”

Tom Petty Quotes About His Music and Career

45. “Buy me a drink, sing me a song—take me as I come, cause I can’t stay long.”

46. “A good song should give you a lot of images—you should be able to make your own little movie in your head to a good song.”

47. “I had to learn a new way of playing. I had to practice a lot, and just find ways around the limitations. So it was a bad idea to break my hand.”

48. “I didn’t worry about my career ending, but there were days where I felt pretty beat up by it all and just pretty tired, because they didn’t make it easy for me.”

49. “It’s always been great to be onstage. It’s really effortless up there. It’s not a lot of work.”

50. “You know, music isn’t really supposed to be perfect. It’s all about people relating to each other and doing something that’s really from the soul.”

51. “I would never put my songs in a commercial.”

52. “I’m more interested in what I’m going to leave behind me than in making a big hit record.”

53. “If there’s one thing I know about music theory, it’s that if you don’t believe the singer, you won’t believe the song.”

54. “When my record company rejected ‘Full Moon Fever,’ I was hurt so bad. I was pretty far along in my career at that point. I’d never had anything rejected. I’d never really even had a comment. So when that happened, it was really just a board to the forehead. But then, finally, I picked myself up.”

55. “It’s funny how the music industry is enraged about the Internet and the way things are copied without being paid for. But you know why people steal the music? Because they can’t afford the music.”

56. “I’m not any happier anywhere than when I’m in the studio. I’m over the moon about it. It keeps me young, it keeps me feeling like I have some purpose.”

57. “Making a record? You’ve got to have the song, then you create a record. I think it’s the same with a live performance. If the material is strong, you’re already 90% there. I always tell young people it’s all about the music, the songs. Work on the songs, work on the songs, work on the songs.”

58. “No matter how long you play the guitar, there’s always something else to learn.”

59. “I could come home, and I would spend the rest of the night just lying on the floor or the sofa listening to albums. It was like a movie to me. I still do, really, and doing the radio show ensures that I’ll be sitting there listening.”

Tom Petty Quotes That Will Give You Hope

60. “It wasn’t work for me, because I would’ve done it anyway. I just had a built-in love of what I was doing. I created my own vision of what I wanted to do. I was on a mission.”

61. “I think if I’d quit years ago, I’d never have known what I was capable of doing.”

62. “I have turned down a lot of money for things that would have made me feel cheesy.”

63. “That’s stupid. You couldn’t pay me to go. I’m not oversimplifying it. That’s what’s going on. I don’t think it would be any fun without the drugs. It’s a drug party.”

64. “The only good thing about getting older is you get smart enough to avoid unnecessary problems. You know what’s worth spending time on and what’s not.”

65. “We’ve all got to kind of come together if we want things to be better.”

66. “It’s kind of a lonely work, because you just have to keep your pole in the water. I always had a little routine of going into whatever room I was using at the time to write in and just staying in there till I felt like I got a bite.”

67. “I don’t think it’s a good attitude in your life to feel that you have to be rich to have self-esteem.”

68. “And the days went by like paper in the wind. Everything changed, then changed again. It’s hard to find a friend. It’s hard to find a friend.”

69. “When I go to see people, I always kind of hope they are going to play some kind of songs I know. So you’ve got to know your audience. It’s kind of something that is a blessing and a curse in a way.”

70. “You get in there, you get the job done and you get the hell out.”

71. “Sometimes, giving up your privacy is a little like going to the dentist and we have let him have access that no one’s ever had.”

72. “You were the one who made things different, you were the one who took me in. You were the one thing I could count on, above all, you were my friend.”

73. “I don’t treat the band like I’m above them or that they’re a hired hand for me. We’ve never worked that way. So I’m a team player. I would be very uncomfortable having to do this alone.”

74. “I’m old enough to have lived in a country where, if you were willing to work hard, you could have a fairly nice life. You could support your family, and even get a shot at owning your own home. But you never thought you’d get a swimming pool. Now culture has hypnotised people into thinking they’re really nothing if they’re not wealthy and a Kardashian.”

Tom Petty Quotes to Ponder On

75. “TV does not care about you or what happens to you. It’s downright bad for your health now, and that’s not a far-out concept. I think watching the TV news is bad for you. It is bad for your physical health and your mental health.”

76. “How ’bout a cheer for all those bad girls? And all those boys that play that rock and roll? They love it like you love Jesus, it does the same thing to their souls.”

77. “I’m barely prolific and incredibly lazy.”

78. “As we celebrate mediocrity, all the boys upstairs want to see. How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free.”

79. “I think that if people realize that with an mp3, you’re only getting five percent of the sound that’s there. But when you hear the entire thing, I think it would save the music business. It’s such a drastic change.”

80. “Rock isn’t a young music anymore. I don’t think it’s necessarily even a youth-oriented music.”

81. “I tend to write on an acoustic guitar or the piano. I have kind of a rule—if I can’t sit down and play this and get the song over, I don’t take it to the band, because most any good song, you can sit down and deliver it with a piano or a guitar.”

82. “There’s nothing like that feeling of having just written a song that you know is ‘the song,’ and you know it’s really great, and you can’t wait to share it with people—you can’t wait to record it.”

83. “I don’t know, my music has always just come from where the wind blew me. Like where I’m at during a particular moment in time.”

84. “When I decided to be a musician, I reckoned that that was going to be the way of less profit, less money. I was sort of giving up the idea of making a lot of money. It was what I loved to do. I would have done it anyway. If I’d had to work at Taco Bell I’d have still been out at night trying to play music.”

85. “There used to be this real sense of community integrity in rock. It has really eroded. Everyone seems to be on their own now.”

86. “Rock n’ roll was one thing, and then they chopped off the ‘roll’ and called it ‘rock,’ which became a sort of umbrella term for anything with a guitar in it. Like hair bands. How could we possibly believe that? It’s just gotten downright silly, to the point where now it’s sort of become like professional wrestling.”

87. “You will never be told when the next bit of education is coming or where it’s coming from or who the teacher will be. That information will only reveal itself after the fact. All that you can do is leave a little room there for the next lesson to come through. Someone will be carrying it. You just leave the door open a crack.”

88. “The radio has so many rules, and songs don’t. You don’t necessarily write to a rule book unless you’re, like, just doing it professionally, which has never been my thing.”

89. “The music business looks like, you know, innocent schoolboys compared to the TV business. They care about nothing but profit.”

Tom Petty Quotes on His Life as a Musician

90. “When I met Elvis, we didn’t really have a conversation. I was introduced by my uncle, and he sort of grunted my way. What stays with me is the whole scene. I had never seen a real mob scene before. I was really young and impressionable. Elvis really did look—he looked sort of not real, as if he were glowing.”

91. “I’ve never had any idea that what I like would resonate with the audience, and I’m pleasantly surprised when it does.”

92. “It’s very easy to be cynical about the hall of fame. But on the other hand, it’s really a beautiful thing for someone like me. I dedicated my entire life to this music.”

93. “But I eat pretty sensibly, and before a tour, I will usually work out a lot. I’ll get a trainer, or I have a guy I’ve known for a long time.”

94. “The energy of the crowd is insane. Twenty thousand people. It’s the biggest jolt of adrenaline. It’s very hard to explain. You know the old story about the woman lifting the car off her kid? It’s in that realm. You can actually hurt yourself and not know it.”

95. “You’re obligated to play some of that stuff that people know, but I don’t think that’s all you have to do.”

96. “An average show is two hours. And that’s usually right up to the curfew or the union triple time. I always feel like I could have played a little longer or something, but it’s hard for me to pay attention to anything for longer than that.”

97. “I’ve been more and more into production lately, and I really, really love that. I love recording.”

98. “’Free Fallin’’ is a very good song. Maybe it would be one of my favorites if it hadn’t become this huge anthem. But I’m grateful that people like it.”

99. “We don’t really make bad records, though some people might like some more than others. And we have never really done a bad show. So I think, in a way, maybe we’ve been taken for granted.”

More Tom Petty Quotes That’ll Help You Understand Him Better

100. “The first time I tried to write was when I was 14, after I got an electric guitar. I put a song together, and it wasn’t that bad! The writing came natural to me.”

101. “When I was 15 or 16 playing in groups, we used to sit in the car and try to write the lyrics down as a song was playing, and we’d assign each person a verse, you know, ‘I’m going to do the first one. You go for the second one.’ And then sometimes you’d wait an hour for it to come on again so you could finish it up.”

102. “I didn’t think you could just become a rock and roll singer.”

103. “You get into your late 50s’, people start falling like flies all around you. I don’t take life for granted any more. I’m really glad to be here.”

104. “It’s hard for me, if I don’t have a project going. I don’t feel like I’m connected to anything. I don’t even think it’s that healthy for me. I like to get out of bed and have a purpose.”

105. “I was born a rebel, born a rebel.”

106. “I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

107. “The great thing about the Wilburys was that none of us had to take the heat by ourselves. I was just a member of the band. Nobody felt like he was above anybody else. We had such a good time.”

108. “I love history, doesn’t matter what era, I’m fascinated.”

109. “My hours get kinda backwards. Most of the time, we’re basing out of one town, flying out, doing the show, then flying back. And it’s a pace that no one would believe, really. Unless you’ve done it, you really can’t understand what it is. And if you’re not really experienced and know how to do it, you will fall.”

110. “My family wasn’t involved in the college. They were more of just your ‘white trash’ kind of family. And so I have that kind of background, but I always kind of aspired to be something else, and I made a lot of different friends over the years that were passing through.”

Did You Learn Something From These Tom Petty Quotes?

Tom Petty was a singer-songwriter and the lead vocalist of the band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. While growing up, his rebellious personality was already manifesting. 

He was inspired by an Elvis Presley movie and that moved him to pursue his dreams. When his father bought him his new guitar, he played it day and night.

Tom Petty taught us that in order to be successful, we need to be consistent and push harder. You may encounter rejections and failures, but trust the path you’re in. No matter what happens, if you believe in yourself, you will always see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What did you learn from today’s collection? Did you listen to Tom Petty and his band’s music before? Share your thoughts down below.