My friend Will is a big Pretenders fan. I’ve never been quite so hot on them, but I did go through a period where I really liked, Learning to Crawl — especially their third person cover of The Persuaders’ song, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” The truth is that the Pretenders are really good at doing other people’s music. Another song that comes to mind is “Stop Your Sobbing,” which is infinitely better than The Kinks’ version.
But my favorite Pretenders song is a Chrissie Hynde original, “Kid.” When I was younger, I always heard the song as being sung to a child. Now it doesn’t sound like that at all. But there is a clear power differential: the singer has it and “kid” doesn’t. It’s kind of like “Thin Line between Love and Hate,” but during a period when the abuser is more appreciative of the love she is receiving, more regretful for the pain she causes.