"Money Becomes King" as written by and Tom Petty....
If you reach back in your memory
A little bell might ring
About a time that once existed
When money wasn't king
If you stretch your imagination
I'll tell you all a tale
About a time when everything
Wasn't up for sale

There was this cat named Johnny
Who loved to play and sing
When money wasn't king

We'd all get so excited
When John would give a show
We'd raise the cash between us
And down the road we'd go
To hear him play that music
It spoke right to my soul
Every verse a diamond
And every chorus gold
The sound was my salvation
It was only everything
Before money became king

Well I ain't sure how it happened
And I don't know exactly when
But everything got bigger
And the rules began to bend
And they taught the people
How to get their hair to shine
And how sweet life can be
If you keep a tight behind
And they raised the cost of living
And could we have known
They'd doubled the price of tickets
To go see Johnny's show

So we hocked all our possessions
And we sold a little dope
And went off to rock and roll

We arrived there early
In time to see rehearsal
And John came out and lip-synched
His new lite beer commercial
And as the crowd arrived
As far as I could see
The faces were all different
There was no one there like me

They sat in golden circles
And waiters served them wine
And they talked through all the music
And to John paid little mind
And way up in the nosebleeds
We watched him on the screen
They'd hung between the billboards
So cheaper seats could see

Johnny rocked that golden circle
And all those VIP's
And that music that had freed us
Became a tired routine
And I saw his face in close-up
Trying to give it all he had
And sometimes his eyes betrayed him
You could see that he was sad
And I tried to rock on with him
But I slowly became bored
Could that man on stage With everything
Somehow needed more?

There was no use in pretending
No magic left to hear
All the music gave me
Was a craving for lite beer
As I walked out of the arena
My ears began to ring
And money became king


Lyrics submitted by Stoney

"Money Becomes King" as written by Tom Petty

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Money Becomes King song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentOMG no comments. What a great song. It's too bad it's so true.
    voltafan101on September 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbsolutely brilliant song. Who is Johnny in the song, Johnny Cash?
    rob1142763on September 23, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song is definitely not about Johnny Cash. Most artists would never directly reference an actual singer by name.

    The song is a montage, but to identify the specific reference, one has to look at the following cues:
    - Petty's age. This would have been before he was famous, but old enough to go to concerts on his own with friends. So, between about 1966-1974. The artist's rise and fall would have been during this period.
    -The artist would have had to have been someone with stunning and honest talent who was true to his craft, and who later sold out in two ways: by embracing a superficial lifestyle, changing his music to meet commercial ends, and embracing nostalgia over artistry.
    -The key is in this part of the song:

    "We arrived there early
    In time to see rehearsal
    And John came out and lip-synched
    His new lite-beer commercial
    And as the crowd arrived
    As far as I could see
    The faces were all different
    There was no one there like me"

    The Faces (the band). Lite beer ('Every Picture Tells a Story'). The crowd (reference to crowd in the song 'Farewell').

    The person is Rod Stewart.
    Rlsmith1994on October 10, 2017   Link

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