American Paradox: “American Girl” Keeps Shoving This Girl Out of America

Prompt #28 from BootnAll’s #indie30 project:

What song amps you up for travel?


When I hear Tom Petty’s American Girl, usually while I’m flying down the highway and I happen upon it while pushing buttons on the radio, I start dancing in the driver’s seat, which is good.

But I also get that tight feeling in my chest that says, Cora, why is this car in the US and not on a highway in Europe?? Which is bad.

I know that the lyrics of the second verse are wistful and yearning–the guy pops into her memory, it’s all so close but so far out of reach, people have questioned whether the song is about suicide, et cetera, et cetera…but that’s not the part that sets me to mentally packing my suitcase. It’s the first verse, the part where Tom sings:

Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
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
And if she had to die tryin’
She had one little promise she was gonna keep.

That promise that I keep making–and often keeping–is to travel, to run to everywhere I can, to live, even just for a tiny handful of time, in lots of places in this great big world. With Tom Petty singing in my head.

Click here, watch the video, dance along. Then buy a plane ticket. :)

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