Taylor Swift: Tom Petty 'Represented a Kind of Songwriting I Idolized'

Pop singer credits "Free Fallin'" as the song that made her want to learn guitar

Taylor Swift remembers how Tom Petty's "complex simplicity" inspired her to pick up a guitar. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

Many artists paid respects to Tom Petty since his untimely death on Monday. Now Taylor Swift is among them. "To me, Tom Petty represented a kind of songwriting I idolized: complex simplicity," she said to Rolling Stone. 

"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."

In 2009, Swift covered and recorded Petty's "American Girl" during her Fearless tour. Three years and two albums later on 2012's Red, Swift began to shed her more youthful approach in favor of more empowering themes, embodying the very kind of country-to-pop crossover that Petty paved the way for.