top of page
  • Writer's pictureHugh at ZephyrHillMusic

Behind the Lyrics: Karley Scott Collins - Petty in the 80’s

In this series of ‘Behind the lyrics’ I take a closer look at what makes certain songs have the ability to take us deeper. I look at a wide range of country artists, from Billboard toppers to the undiscovered and unsigned. I like to uncover the story between the lines and highlight where the lyrics are special, unique or generally make me say “I wish I’d written that!”.

As we start entering the colder months of the year, this month’s blog takes us back to the other side of last winter - Feb 2023. A dreamtime in early spring where we imagine things coming back to life and warming up for summer.

Karley had been a lyric jotter since age 12, hand scribbling words in a notebook she had made herself, and I am advised she still has it now in her early 20’s. Reading from her Spotify bio, she describes herself as having consciously allowed her music, especially vocals, to be influenced by The Eagles, Stevie Nicks, Leonard Cohen, and Willie Nelson.

We have heard this familiar creative journey too in previous blogs; Karley started playing guitar around the same early age she started jotting those first lyrics, and by age 18 she was regularly taking trips to Nashville.

Where she grew up, sparked the conversation with one of her co-writers for this song, as both of them had grown up in the same state and in US terms, on the doorstep of Gainesville where Tom Petty came from. The 1980’s seems to be one of those decades we stereotypically have an affinity towards. I wished I had known that when I lived through them!

In one online interview Karley says that although she likes the slower songs, this song has become a favourite to play live. I can see why, it’s fun, it’s light hearted and it’s nostalgic.

The appeal for me of this song is the reference to Tom Petty because his music greatly influenced my formative years and how I saw the world. Referencing artists that precede you has been used by lots of others both in the pop and country world. Here are some examples of such songs:

Eric Churches - Springsteen

Taylor Swift - Tim McGraw

Kane Brown - Like I love country music

Reba McEntire - Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain

Thomas Rhett - What’s Your Country Song?

I also really like that the single cover art for this song has adopted the colour scheme from Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever album. I think it might have been that which subconsciously drew me towards first finding the song.

Let’s get into the lyrics;

Verse 1 is full of alliteration and vowel rhymes in every line. Verse 2 brings counterpoint with the line ‘dangerous in a good way’.

The Chorus is the strongest feature (as it should be) of the song. Referencing one of Petty’s classic songs - Free Failing. It’s choker-a-block with alliterations in the first half starting with ‘F’ and in the second ‘L’ which really cements the rhyming around the phrase ‘Free Fallin’. The vowel rhyme of the ‘a’ sound solidly holds the whole thing together even more. This results in an extremely singable chorus, which I imagine the audience learns fast and joins in with each time.

Although I have shown the structure below with three verses, it could equally be that the verse after the first chorus is just one line shorter than the first. That method brings Chorus 2 in faster and changes the flow up nicely.

The Bridge brings in sky references which of course naturally fits back with our Free Falling theme. It’s a very neat example of great songwriting packaged so perfectly that all the songwriting tools of the trade work together to draw you into the song and force you to love it from beginning to end.

So what can we learn from this song for ourselves as writers?

If I was looking to write a catchy new song and wanted to key into a nostalgic feel then I would look at what bands or singers that influenced me and play around with some song titles using their name or their best known work. Remember song titles are not copyrightable so there are no issues with stealing them and twisting them into some new lyrics. Maybe leave a comment with your own ideas.

Before we move on, Karley has a new single out: Heavy Metal which has a great double meaning.

Until next time.

Written by: Hugh Webber


Hugh has over 20 years experience as a songwriter and creative collaborator; personally mentored by Kinks frontman Ray Davies, a year at the London Songwriting Academy, and with songs placed in film and TV. Find out more here.

Written by Joshua Miller, Robert Brock Berryhill, Karley Scott Collins

Verse 1

Kinda caused this, never all in

Overthinking, wait, and I'm stalling

Baby, that was me 'til you walked in

Verse 2

Kinda dangerous in a good way

Kind of face that might make a heart break

But baby, I don't see it that way


You got me-

Free fallin' like Petty in the '80s

First time, not afraid of levitating

Don't need nobody to save me

Yeah, you got me, baby

Lately, loving the way you love me old school crazy

I go wherever you take me

Free fallin' like Petty in the '80s

Verse 3

The way you hold me, the way you wreck me

You shake me up, but keep me steady

You make the rain feel like confetti

No, I ain't scared to hit the ground

'Cause you ain't gonna let me down, and I like-



Write my name across your sky

And I'll write your name on mine

No, I ain't scared to hit the ground

'Cause you ain't gonna let me down



bottom of page