"My City Was Gone" is a song by the rock group The Pretenders. The song originally appeared in October 1982 as the B-side to the single release of "Back on the Chain Gang"; the single was the first release for the band following the death of founding bandmember James Honeyman-Scott. The song was included on the album Learning to Crawl released in early 1984, and it became a radio favorite in the United States. It is sometimes referred to as "The Ohio Song" for its constant reference to the state, though it is not part of the song's title. The song's final title was due to the fact that there had already been a song called "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
The song was written by Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde, and reflected her growing interest in environmental and social concerns; the lyrics take the form of an autobiographical lament, with the singer returning to her childhood home of Ohio and discovering that rampant development and pollution had destroyed the "pretty countryside" of her youth. The song makes a number of specific references to places in and around Akron, Ohio including South Howard Street (line 5), the historic center of Akron which was leveled to make way for an urban plaza with three skyscrapers and two parking decks (line 8).
The opening bassriff from this song "was something that Tony Butler used to play just as a warm-up," said Steve Churchyard, the engineer for the record.
The instrumental opening of the song (before Hynde's vocals appear at about 40 seconds) has been used as the opening theme 'bumper' for Rush Limbaugh's popular Americantalk radioprogram since 1984, during his days at KFBK in Sacramento, California. Limbaugh said in 2011 that he chose it because of the irony of a conservative using such an anti-conservative song, though he mainly liked its "unmistakable, totally recognizable bass line."
In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine reported that, according to Hynde's manager, Limbaugh had neither licensed the song nor asked permission to use it. According to Rolling Stone, EMI took action after Limbaugh told a pair of reporters in 1997 that "it was icing on the cake that it was [written by] an environmentalist, animal rights wacko and was an anti-conservative song. It is anti-development, anti-capitalist and here I am going to take a liberal song and make fun of [liberals] at the same time." EMI issued a cease and desist request that Limbaugh stop using the song, which he did. When Hynde found out during a radio interview, she said that her parents loved and listened to Limbaugh and she did not mind its use. A usage payment was agreed upon which she donated to PETA. She later wrote to the organization saying, "In light of Rush Limbaugh's vocal support of PETA's campaign against the Environmental Protection Agency's foolish plan to test some 3,000 chemicals on animals, I have decided to allow him to keep my song, 'My City Was Gone', as his signature tune..."