Perhaps the ultimate Hollywood insider's song, this is about the frustration of dealing with the phoniness and crass commercialism of the entertainment industry while trying to pursue one's artistic calling. It's what you might expect from a musician who had been around a while and built up some bitterness, but this was Richard Marx' first single. He explained in our 2012 interview: "I got a lot of people saying, 'Dude, you're 22. How can you be so cynical?' I think cynicism and gratitude can co-exist. And I was very grateful. I moved to L.A. when I was 18, and I definitely spent a lot of time sitting around doing nothing, trying to get something going and nothing was happening. I got rejected by every label multiple times, and I got a lot of doors slammed in my face and more than my share of rejection and all that stuff.
But when things did turn around for me, I was still really young. But it didn't mean that I hadn't already been exposed to the jive and the empty promises, and the thing that really makes up the music business in Hollywood and the film business, as well. But my chosen field was music. Guys at record companies telling me, 'You're signed, don't worry about it,' and then they won't call you back, and all kinds of stuff that you count on. Right down to people that sent me notes stamped 'Hobby' on my demo tape.
So by the time I wrote 'Don't Mean Nothing,' I was pissed off. I definitely had a little chip on my shoulder at that point. While at the same time being aware that at least I was making a living in some way, shape, or form. I was doing music. I didn't have to work at McDonald's or the car wash." (Here's our full interview with Richard Marx