Any starry eyed kid looking to get into the music business should really know what they’re getting themselves into at the start. There’s a pretty hefty emphasis on the business side of that title, and it isn’t really the 24 hour party that everyone thinks that it is all the time. Fame can be cool for a little while, but there comes a point when you really want that to end as well.
Almost as a way to vent all of their frustrations, each of these were written in response to the suits in the music industry, talking about how often you can get screwed over by businessmen who just want a piece of you instead of caring about your artistic integrity. It’s hard to see some of our favorite artists sound so bitter, but it’s not like they don’t have a point though.
If you go through all of these songs, these guys had a right to be angry here, whether that be because of some managers trying to treat them like dogs or mounting pressure to get everything just right. The whole music business can get a little overwhelming even at the best of times, so sometimes letting it out in song is one of the only ways that you can get any honest emotion out. The music business will keep turning until the end of time, but it takes a true artist to stand up for what they believe and start using their art as a weapon.
10. Century City - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
From the first time that he picked up a guitar, Tom Petty had the spirit of rock and roll flowing through his veins. Even though songs like American Girl might not be the most hard edged thing you've ever heard in your life, this was a man that believed in the true power behind a few chords and was not going to let it go to waste. So when he eventually got lawyers coming for his art, there was no way he was going to just gloss over the subject.
While most of the songs off of Damn the Torpedoes talk about characters that are a little bit lost in the world, it was also autobiographical as well, with Tom being in a lawsuit with his own label over songwriting royalties. Though a track like Refugee may have captured the tone of their lives a little better, Century City was the one song written about those times, talking about going to see the lawyers every single day and an almost forced excitement about living in the modern world.
This wouldn't even be the last time that Tom would get vicious on a track, going to war with his distributor on the next album over jacking up the price of his album and eventually writing an entire concept album about the scummy puppeteers behind the scenes called The Last DJ. There's always a gamble that comes with taking on the people who make the wheels roll, but if Tom was going into an uphill battle, he was going to come out swinging.