RUSH: Here’s Doug in Peoria. Great to have you on the EIB Network, Doug. Hi.
CALLER: Oh, hi, Rush. Great to talk to you. Hey, as you continue to play in Peoria, your opening song has been playing in my head for a long time now. So my question’s real simple: How did The Pretenders song come to be a theme song for the program?
RUSH: Well, it’s a good question. How did I end up choosing this song? I had never had a theme song before. I didn’t even want one. “A theme song? That’s what Arthur Godfrey and those guys had. The Tonight Show had a theme song. A radio talk show, it just starts.” They said, “No, no, no. You need a theme song.” This was in Sacramento. “You need a theme song. And so it’s not something I wanted to argue about. I said, “Okay, fine.” So they said, “Well, pick one,” and I went through a whole slew of possibilities.
Since it was the first time I’d done it, none of them grabbed me. I can’t recall ’em, until I heard this, ’til I heard My City Was Gone by The Pretenders. And the only thing I can tell you, Doug, is it’s Sacramento, California. I am going to be one of few conservatives in the medium. Democrat voter registration out there when I got there in 1984 Sacramento County was 78% Democrat. And the impression of talk radio audiences was that it was God’s waiting room; that it was all old, unemployed, “people on relief,” as it was called. And I never believed that.
But to those that were, I thought I’d pick just a thumping bass line rock ‘n’ roll song to send the signal there was nothing old about this program, that there was nothing dated about it, that it was nothing other than something young and hip. And it was the bass line that got me on the song. I’d never heard it before a bunch of stations out there started suggesting to me. It was not a major project, but when I chose one that was it. I went through about four or five before I decided on that one, and then an interesting thing happened.
After using it for close to… When was this? This would have been in 1990s. Maybe I’d been using it 10, 12 years. All of a sudden, the owner of the song… It was written by Chrissie Hynde, but the owner of the song, EMI, said, “You can’t use it anymore! Chrissie Hynde doesn’t want you using it anymore. You can’t use it. She doesn’t want it associated with the show.” Oh, my God, no. So we started offering money for it, and they turned down all kinds of money. I said, “Oh, my God, I’m gonna have to go out and find a new theme song.
So I did it all over again, and then Chrissie Hynde happened to appear on WPLJ in New York, which was the sister FM station to the station I was on, and the morning host, Scott Shannon, asked her about this, and she had not heard about it. He said, “I don’t care. He can use it. My parents love the guy.” She didn’t, but she said, “My parents love the guy. If Rush Limbaugh wants to play it, fine with me.” So we got that, and we called the people at EMI and said, “What do you say to this?” So they were…
When they told us that… I think it was EMI. I forget now the owner, the licensee, but they told us that she was the reason that we couldn’t use it anymore. And she wasn’t. They were just imposing their own view in her name. And she unwittingly used. She didn’t sell ’em out, but she undermined them because she didn’t have any idea this was going on. But Scott Shannon did. “Oh, no, no, no. Fine. You can use it. I don’t care. My parents love Rush Limbaugh. Swear by him. I can’t stand the guy, but my parents love him.” So we settled on a deal after that and it’s forever now.