|Released September 9, 1991|
Producer(s) Tom Petty Jeff Lynne
Writer(s) Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne
|Genre Heartland rock jangle rock|
"Into the Great Wide Open" is the third song on the 1991 album Into the Great Wide Open by the group Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The music video for the single, directed by Julien Temple, starred Johnny Depp as the protagonist named Eddie Rebel, Gabrielle Anwar as Eddie's girlfriend, Faye Dunaway as Eddie's manager and featured cameos by Terence Trent D'Arby, Chynna Phillips of Wilson Phillips and Matt LeBlanc, later of Friends. The video was shot during the filming of Arizona Dream, in which both Depp and Dunaway starred, which was on hiatus as its director Emir Kusturica had suffered a nervous breakdown. The song was extended in order to include more of the 18 minutes of footage Temple had created.
The video starts like a storybook narration, as Eddie's story unfolds. Eddie arrives in Hollywood after graduating high school and joins the local scene. He finds a girl (Anwar) who has the same tattoo as he does; a heart impaled with a stiletto knife. As Eddie works as a doorman, his girlfriend teaches him to play guitar. Their landlady (Dunaway) turns out to be a cross between a fairy godmother and a svengali, managing his increasing success as a rock star.
Unfortunately the success goes to Eddie's head, as he becomes more indulgent (getting drunk and rude at an award ceremony and losing his temper in a music video shoot). Things come to a peak when he excludes his manager from a red carpet event. Infuriated, his manager (Dunaway) waves her wand and breaks the spell, with disastrous results. Eddie's career quickly fizzles, Anwar leaves him, and the heart in his tattoo fades away. The story closes with Eddie returning to the tattoo parlor, where he finds a newcomer (LeBlanc) getting the same tattoo from a new tattoo artist (Depp). Tom Petty then closes the video with the classic fairy tale ending that "they all lived happily ever after".
Tom Petty took the line "a rebel without a clue" from the 1989 single "I'll Be You" by Minneapolis rock band The Replacements with whom he toured. The term was coined by Jim Steinman, who wrote "Rebel without a clue" for Bonnie Tyler on the 1982 release "Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire".
Petty himself appears in the video playing multiple roles, including the narrator, the tattoo artist, Eddie's roadie Bart and a reporter. The other members of the Heartbreakers are also given cameos throughout the video. Lead guitarist Mike Campbell helps present the award to Eddie toward the end of the video, keyboardist Benmont Tench portrays Eddie's record producer, bassist Howie Epstein portrays a motorcycle dealer, and drummer Stan Lynch portrays the doorman who refuses to let Eddie's manager into the red carpet event. Petty's manager Tony Dimitriades is also given a cameo as the record label A&R man who signs Eddie into a recording contract.