• Justin Key

Behind the Title - Runnin' Down A Dream

Updated: Sep 7

"Runnin' Down A Dream" - by Tom Petty

A panorama looking up at the live oak tunnel that leads to Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia with a blue sky and morning sun peaking through the collage of branches and leaves.

An anthem for the entrepreneur, "Runnin' Down A Dream" is the surfboard with which one rides a wave of momentum. In a picture of a convertible speeding down a road, "Runnin' Down A Dream" is the red scarf surrendered to the wind. The song is joy, it's freedom, it's the siren announcing you've won the jackpot of life. So roll the windows down, turn the volume up, and let Tom Petty's guitar roar with the engine as we go for a drive.


The drums arrive immediately, taking us from 0-60 before the end of the first riff. There's no need for a build-up when the hearts already racing. The wind roars with applause, the sun beams with joy, the steel horse you're riding is cloud nine soaring through the heavens. This is the feeling of confidence settling in, nerves are behind you, doubt is fading with it, you're in control and it's time to run.


"It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down I had the radio on, I was drivin' Trees flew by, me and Del were singin' little Runaway I was flyin'


Yeah, runnin' down a dream That never would come to me Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads Runnin' down a dream"


Those lines say it all, "runnin' down a dream, that never would come to me". It speaks of the pursuit, of the determination to go for it. You don't wait, you don't walk, you run. The passion boosts your stamina so when the cold rainy days arrive, and they will, you can push through. The drive fuels that fire, accelerating the wheels because the only way to chase down that dream is to keep moving forward. It's not coming for you, you have to pursue it and when those wheels start rolling, you ride it and you do everything to push that pedal down a little further.


"I felt so good like anything was possible

Hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes

The last three days the rain was unstoppable

It was always cold, no sunshine"


This is the high. This is what you've been chasing. It's a moment of validation when you feel like anything is possible. The road is finally clear, the car is cruising and it could finally be the burst you need to reach the summit. These are the moments you have to ride, where you use your momentum to carry you further because one of these times you'll finally break through.


"I rolled on, the sky grew dark

I put the pedal down to make some time

There's something good waitin' down this road

I'm pickin' up whatever's mine"


"I'm runnin' down a dream

That never would come to me

Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads

Runnin' down a dream"


The canopy in the photo shadowed the road from which I took the image. It was far from a jubilant stroll, Tom Petty wasn't laying down the soundtrack to the moment with "Runnin' Down A Dream". I was patient, locked into a meandering state of observation, basically tiptoeing down the road as not to startle a composition.


I don't find myself in a photographic zone like this as often as I would like. The photographer hat is one of many that I must don in order to keep this vehicle operational. At the time this photo was taken, my roadster dream was still on blocks and I was scrapping for parts. The only thing I had was an idea of the life I wanted and on a muggy morning in Georgia, I was getting a taste of it.


"Yeah, I'm runnin' down a dream

That never would come to me

Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads

I'm runnin' down a dream"


Worlds away from my house of hats, the photographer was released. The foundation of the business was being tested as that tree tunnel passed by. Every time the camera was in my hands was an opportunity to prove this dream was my destiny. Everything depended on my eye. This stage of my business was shrouded in doubts and the only thing fighting them off was the belief that I had enough talent to make it.


Editing provided the fuel I needed to keep going as this turtle's eye view ignited my engine. The dark branches of the live oaks rooted in a mosaic of greens and blues created a fabulous tapestry. The gradation in the sky breathed life into the trees. An upside-down perspective flattened out the tunnel to shine a light on the shadowed side of the canopy, transforming the natural tunnel into a blanket of textures and lines.


Suddenly my dream had gas. My eye had flipped this popular tunnel, proving again that it was worth trusting. This was the motor my leadfoot was challenging. The body needed work, the interior was shabby, and it didn't ride smooth but with the engine sparked and the wheels turning, I hopped in the driver's seat. The ride was short-lived but for about four minutes and twenty seconds, I was flying.