My City Was Gone

Album: Learning To Crawl (1984)
  • 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.

    In a 2017 Songfacts interview with Chrissie Hynde, she explained that she has never heard Limbaugh's show, and being a resident of England, she wasn't even aware of him. When she learned about it, she made sure that any royalties from Limbaugh's use of the song go to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

    "So many people told me to stop him, that it kind of irritated me," said Hynde. "I don't like being told what to do. I'm sure they had good reason for it, although I still haven't heard his show and I think he's off the air now."

    When we informed her that Limbaugh was still broadcasting, she said, "A lot of shock jocks, I guess that's what they're called, they stir up a certain dialog with people and I think we're going to see that now with the current president [Donald Trump]. It's certainly not a good time for people to be complacent."
  • This was released as the B-side of "Back On The Chain Gang."
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Comments: 21

  • Mike from Berkeley, CaAmazing that Chrissie wrote that "...The farms of Ohio / Had been replaced by shopping malls...", and this is exactly the kind of 'development' that Limbaugh and his funders support. Way to go.
  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlNever mind the political stuff.Just groove on the awesome bass line & the twangy guitar.
  • Brad from Long Island, NyHey Ash, don't beleive all the hype, listen to the guys show just one time, you wont ever hear a hateful word come from the guy, except his disdain for socialism/liberalism. You can disagree with his politics if you want, but most of the lies regarding Rush are about him,not from him.
  • Bryan from Atlanta, GaSadly, the song acknowledges a universal truth: You can never go home again. What you call "home" is in the past and will never be again. Time moves on and life goes on. To the political wailing and gnashing of teeth about Rush's use of this great song: This is America, folks. Land of the somewhat free and home of the somewhat brave. Libs, where is your compassion and tolerance for all viewpoints? Hmmmmm?
  • Biff from Doylestown, PaI would imagine that Chrissy Hynde is rich, we know she's successful in ways most of us can only imagine. She is living the American dream thanks to capitalism (apparently someone wants to buy her product) and freedom. Now they say she's opened up a restaurant presumably for further personal wealth enhancement. That's great....same vision of the country as Rush. Radically different views indeed. Biff, Doylestown, PA
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhShe's dead on about the urban sprawl and pollution. It's actually a pretty sad song when you think about it. Damn good riff too.
  • Sam from Lincoln, NeThe Supreme Court held in 1999 that artists controlled the rights over the use of their songs on a thematic basis. Because of this, Rush Limbaugh was forced to stop using "My City Was Gone" until he and Chrissie Hynde came to an agreement. She gets half a million dollars per year from Limbaugh for the right to use the song, which money she donates to PETA. It's almost as if Limbaugh himself donated the money. How's that for irony?
  • Karl from Akron, , Oh Last year she opened up a veggie type resturant here in Akron. it's nice she didn't get too popular to forget her roots..... As a story goes, a few years back she was invited to throw out the first pich at an Akron Aeros baseball game ( The Areos are a Cleveland Indians farm team ) and she ended up hitting some old lady with a wild pitch.. I can't tell how valid that story is, but it's fun to talk about. Lastly she was a graduate of Firestone High School, where another famous Akronite had graduated from ( But not the same year ) That being Astronaut Judy Resnick who was tragically killed in the Challenger shuttle explosion.
  • Pat from Albuquerque, NmAs another Midwesterner, I sure understood how Chrissie felt about Akron dying. It's those conservative capitalists (like the Rush) that are the reason that tires aren't made in that city anymore. Incidentally, I saw the Pretenders in Chicago around 1981. They rocked.
  • Robin from Tyler, TxI'm happy for Chrissee for getting all those royalties from Rush using her song. That's called Capitalism! If not for people like Rush Limbaugh, Roland Reagan, and Newt Gingrich we would live in a socialist state that would be much like the Soviet Union. Wake up people!
  • John from Akron, Oh...from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls!!!
  • Brian from Albany, OrIts assuming that one knows the meaning of 'ironic'. Also to note...maybe politically correct venom is OK. But the song rocks.
  • Mark from Killeen, TxSaying someone should 'rot in hell' for 'spewing venom' is just a tad ironic, don't you think?
  • Jerry from Youngstown, OhDespite her views towards Rush, Chrissy and that song rock.What's sad about that song to me, is I grew up in NE Ohio and heard it for the first time when Iwas 9, in the back seat of my car, watching the last mill be torn down. B
  • Dennis from Boyne City, MiThere are a lot of good reasons to dislike Rush Limbaugh, but using a particular theme song isn't one of them.
  • Don from Phoenix, AzWhen I first heard a little bit of something by the Pretenders in the early 80s, for some reason I just presumed they were a British band. Then I heard this, and when I heard Chrissie pronounce "Cuyahoga" with only three syllables instead of four, I knew they had to be Ohio-bred! Powerful tune; good American rock!
  • Frank from Westminster, ScWow. The sentence, for playing a song you like and disagreeing with you in political and social matters, is to rot in hell. To put such speech out on the radio, is to spew worthless venom. It's good to know there are still fair-minded, analytical thinkers out there. Dittos.
  • Mike from Fort Worth, Txhey, Rush is awesome...he pays the roylaties...don't worry. The only venom I hear comes from the left...
  • Ash from Charleston, WvMay Rush Limbaugh rot in hell for this and for all the worthless venom he spews every day.
  • Scott from Chicago, Ilwhat's really sad is that the song is truer now than it was then..try driving through youngstown
    or akron's wayyyy gone now unfotunately
  • Kenny from Toronto, CanadaIt is about Chrissie's first experience back in her hometown after months of touring with The Pretenders. She describes her shock after learning that things aren't what it use to be.
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