The Last DJ (song)

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"The Last DJ"
TP Last DJ promo.png
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
from the album The Last DJ
Released September 23, 2002 (2002-09-23)
Genre Rock
Length 3:31
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Tom Petty
Producer(s) George Drakoulias, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singles chronology
"Room at the Top"
"The Last DJ"
"Good Enough"
"Room at the Top"
"The Last DJ"
"Good Enough"
Tom Petty singles chronology
(1999) String Module Error: Match not found1999
"The Last DJ"
(2002) String Module Error: Match not found2002
"Saving Grace"
(2006) String Module Error: Match not found2006

"The Last DJ" is a song written by Tom Petty and recorded by American rock band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was released in September 2002 as the lead single from their album of the same name. This song had moderate success reaching number 22 on the Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2002. The song was banned by many stations owned by Clear Channel Communications for being "anti-radio."[1]

Background and writing[edit]

Petty told Mojo magazine that in this song, "Radio was just a metaphor. ‘The Last DJ’ was really about losing our moral compass, our moral center. The line "How much you'll pay for what you used to get for free" was used shortly before the previously free Fan Club site was changed to require a $50 fee” [2] Petty told Jim DeRogatis that the song is a story "about a D.J. in Jacksonville, Florida, who became so frustrated with his inability to play what he wants that he moves to Mexico and gets his freedom back. The song is sung by a narrator who's a fan of this D.J." [3]


This song is an attack on corporate assumption of radio stations in the late 1990s. Stations in this practice would have one disc jockey record programs and have them broadcast over many other stations, saving money in the process, but also losing the local connection with audiences. Since the disc jockey is not local and is recording the program ahead of time, he cannot refer to timely events and must make an effort to connect with an audience of which he does not know.

Critical reception[edit]

Chuck Taylor, of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, calling it "the most inspiring song in years from a man who has pretty much seen it all."[4]

In popular culture[edit]

In an episode of The Simpsons titled "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", Homer receives song-writing lessons from Tom Petty, and in the original airing the track "The Last DJ" can be heard playing over the radio in the final scene. The song was changed for syndication.


Chart (2002) Peak
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 22


External links[edit]