Guitar lesson for

Runnin' Down a Dream

by Tom Petty

Video lesson

PDF print-out of this lesson

If you’d like a print-friendly PDF of this lesson for offline use, view my downloads page. You’ll find it there!

Chords needed

E ––––0––––2––––3––––0––––0––––
B ––––0––––3––––0––––2––––1––––
G ––––1––––2––––0––––2––––0––––
D ––––2––––0––––0––––2––––2––––
A ––––2–––––––––2––––0––––3––––
E ––––0–––––––––3––––––––––––––
      E    D    G    A    C

Main riff

The main riff uses the notes below. I use my middle finger for the 7-6-5-3 fretted notes on the low E string. The hard part will be transitioning into the E-major chord while maintaining your rhythm in a strum… and likewise transitioning from that same strummy E-major back into this riff.

E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
B –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
G –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––1––––
D –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––   ...then, strum the E
A –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––
E –––0––7–––0––6–––0––5–––0––3–––0–––––0––––

A simpler version, though technically not what you hear on the album, is to play it like this. This is much, much easier to play while staying in time with your strumming (leading into the E-major chord).

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
B ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
G ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––1––––
D ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––   ...then, strum the E
A ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––
E –––0––7–––0––6–––0––5–––0–––––0––––

Lyrics w/ chords

    E (with riff)

    It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
              D                 E
    I had the radio on... I was driving
    Trees flew by, me and Del were singing
             D                E
    A little Runaway... I was flying

              A       G      E             E           G       A
        Yeah, running down a dream... that never would come to me
        D            G     E          E         G       A  
        Working on a mystery......... going wherever it leads
        A       G      E
        Running down a dream

    I felt so good like anything was possible
    I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
    The last three days the rain was unstoppable
    It was always cold, no sunshine

        [ chorus ]

                  C            D            E
            Woo-hooo.... woo-hooo.... woo-hooo....
                  C            D            E
            Woo-hooo.... woo-hooo.... woo-hooo....

    I rolled on as the sky grew dark
    I put the pedal down to make some time
    There's something good waiting down this road
    I'm picking up whatever's mine

        [ chorus ]

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

Enjoy this lesson? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider donating to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it). Thanks!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!

Monthly email updates

If you want to keep posted of new lessons over email, sign up for my newsletter. I'll email once a month with a digest of all my new videos. I promise: no spam.

← back to lesson list