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This song is about Akron, Ohio, where Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders was raised. Akron was an industrial city known as the "Rubber Capital of the World," which despite the smell of burning rubber, was a place Chrissie enjoyed growing up. In the '70s, it was gritty but vibrant, and it had a thriving Rock scene with bands like Pere Ubu, Devo, The Bizarros, and Jane Aire & The Belvederes. Hynde would augment her musical education with the R&B she could find on Detroit radio stations, and would seek out Rock music from the likes of Lou Reed and The Rolling Stones. She did a lot of traveling and played in a lot of bands before forming The Pretenders in 1978 when she relocated to England. Returning to Akron in the '80s, she was disappointed in what the city had become - shopping malls and segregation. "Everything's just huge masses of granite blocks, and everything's outsized. It might look good on a drawing, but it doesn't seem to apply to human life," said Hynde.
The conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh uses the opening riff of this song as theme music for his radio show. Limbaugh and Hynde have radically different political views, but she cannot stop him from using the song as long as the show continues to pay royalties.
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