"The Last DJ" as written by and Tom Petty....
Well, you can't turn him into the company man,
You can't turn him into a whore,
And the boys upstairs just don't understand anymore.
Well, the top brass don't like him talking so much,
And he won't play what they say to play,
And he don't wanna change what don't need to change.

Chorus:
And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play,
And says what he wants to say,
Hey hey hey.
And there goes your freedom of choice,
There goes the last human voice,
And there goes the last DJ.

Well, some folks say they gotta hang him so high,
Coz' you just can't do what he did.
There's some things you just can't put in the minds of those kids.
As we celebrate mediocrity,
All the boys upstairs want to see,
How much you'll pay for what you used to get for free.

(Repeat Chorus)

Well, he got in a station down in Mexico,
And sometimes it'll kinda come in,
And I'll bust a move and remember how it was back then.

(Repeat Chorus)


Lyrics submitted by Irishred516

"The Last DJ" as written by Tom Petty

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Last DJ song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentyea tom petty is one of the few artists that have spanned the decades and have consistently made unique and meaningful music. and that is the main reason why i am a fan.
    hamstylzon May 04, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commenttom petty is one of the few people in the world that dont give a shit what radio stations think. there were stations that refused to play this song when he released it, so tom refused to play concerts in those areas. radio has gone straight to hell. there are no local stations anymore...its all pumped in from one mainframe station god knows where. a classic rock station around here says they'll never repeat a song between 9 AM and 5 PM...at 4:55 PM they played the Boss' "Born to Run"(great song, dont get me wrong), but at 5:01 PM they played it again. Back to back, but it wasnt between 9 and 5. Radio is bullshit.
    shed27on June 24, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTom's done it again. Great guy.
    AudiLuvaon April 11, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPretty obvious. One thing that I heard was that the line about "the boys upstairs" wanting "to see how much you'll pay for what you used to get for free" is about satellite radio. Music on the radio was always free, but now people have found a way to charge people for it. Then again, Tom Petty does a show on one of the satellite stations, so maybe that idea is wrong.
    Nick the Bastardon February 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs a DJ, I can tell you what this is all about:

    The first verse talks about the DJ as the independent voice of the radio station, the one who will always bump up against corporate management (the hereforto "boys upstairs"). The DJ in this first verse is the one who controls the shots and causes the boys upstairs to go into convulsions, that they cannot control this guy.

    The second verse is a split meaning:

    First, the argument that is commonly made about DJs is that they corrupt the youth by speaking freely about things (Opie and Anthony, etc.). The three lines there are the moral authority (Libs and Conservatives alike) complaining.

    Second, Tom slaps the hand of the bigwigs and their mediocre, cookie cutter music selections. Playlists today, as an insider, are about 100 songs on a Top 40 station. 300 for a classic rock station. This is what Clear Channel and others want to peddle.

    The Pay for what the others get for free talks about CDs. Previously, music was exchanged with people by audiotape and was a free way to express. And now, Clear Channel and others want you to pay for the CD, satellite radio, and other things, instead of allowing people to listen for free.

    The last mini-verse is what most DJs did way back when. They'd go to a 1 million watt blowtorch of a station in Mexico and do what they felt there. Generally it's an AM station, and it has less FCC restrictions (cause it's in Mexico).

    On the whole, it's good Tom Petty vs. the Clear Channel machine...and it apparently is working, as Clear Channel and other companies start divesting 1/2 of it's station lineups.
    sakakionseion April 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat song about the music industry. yeah and dj's did go down to border towns in mexico and use some pretty damn powerful radio stations to play what they wanted. Maybe some djs should do something like that again.
    pringles21on January 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI love the message this song provides. It's a remaining veteran from the golden days of music speaking against this mindless corporate machine that is the modern music industry. I wouldn't link it directly to satellite radio, but no doubt that's a part of it. Back in the day music was a way to express your feelings and deliver messages. But as the mid-1990's came around, this all went up in a fiery ball of wreckage. Even thought the song doesn't say it, we have MTV to blame. Now music is a way for people to make money. It's a tool for corporate men (the boys upstairs) to thrive off stupidity. And as we celebrate mediocrity, fakers call themselves singers, but they put shame to the word. They hide themselves behind disguises such as auto-tune and far overused collaborations. The worst offenders? Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, and Ke$ha. I mean just look at those poser names! Petty puts modern followers to shame. Hats off to a remaining legend.
    bonoedgeU2on November 22, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationBasically, what Rebel Tom is writing about in The Last DJ is about the cultural wasteland that is the music industry. Mr. Petty the Southerner/Wilbury/Heartbreaker has a point here. To paraphrase another rocker Steve Earle-to listen to Radio you'd think all was well but we all know, Radio is going straight to hell because we all have paid for thing that were once free! To Petty, Rock is an art form not a lifestyle choice and reality culture is ruining art and music to no end. Tom Petty is telling the truth in this song. Hats off to Rebel Thomas, the last of Classic Rock-and the best! Keep Rocking and Fighting the Establishment Tom! Rock needs and wants you! Thanks Tom!
    rabbitbunnyon April 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFairly obvious what this song means, Tom is biting the hand that feeds him once again. But with style.
    FatherGanjaon March 31, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe's right though.

    clearchannel owns almost 75% of the communication across all of america? it's all such bullshit. no more unique voices instead we're drowned out by some "cool" cronie who sucked the dick of the boss to score some points just to play the same songs over and over and over. hell i turned on the radio four nights in a row at the same time every time and it was the same song every time.

    right-o tom petty!
    HRslammRon April 24, 2003   Link

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