Morning Music: Pretenders

PretendersMy 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.

11 thoughts on “Morning Music: Pretenders

  1. I sing songs from this LP (and a couple others of hers) all the time. I like Kid and I like the harshness of her edgy stuff……..but I always feel like most listeners don’t really get what she’s talking about and the depth to which she expressed herself.
    Like how critics labeled Jane Sibbery ‘the real Suzanne Vega’, I think of Chrissie Hynde as ‘the real Debora Iyall (romeo void)’

    • I quite agree with you, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t think you liked harsh stuff. Have you checked out Aimee Mann? She’s a woman who you would worry might punch you. They have kind of similar vocal styles too.

      • @ will brown: Can you suggest your favorite Jane Sibbery albums so I can check them out from the library? I’m totally unfamiliar with her stuff.

        I think Frank’s too harsh on Aimee Mann. I kinda fell in love with her as someone who sang about being taken for granted by romantic partners, striking back with pure venom at the way she was treated, not men in general. If one takes her songs that way, she’s kinda great for anyone who’s ever felt belittled. She’s not as angry now (more the worse for fans like myself.)

        It still comes out on occasion. Here’s one from her last album, which is, again, about being treated like garbage. It’s wonderful:

        • What are you talking about? I love Aimee Mann! I may have put down the first ‘Til Tuesday album, but that’s because it’s weak. I did a morning music with her a month and a half ago.

          I’ll try to get Will to answer your question. Meanwhile, I will give you my thoughts. I don’t think Siberry has ever made a perfect album, but there is a lot of great stuff. Today, I most listen to her first album, Jane Siberry. It is the most consistent, although it doesn’t have outstanding material. That’s also true of her later albums. No Borders Here has incredibly strong material, but doesn’t hang together as an album. If I had to recommend one album, it would be her next, The Speckless Sky. The first side (I’m showing my age!) is a bit weak, although “One More Color” is transcendent. The second side is fantastic. The Walking is also quite strong. But that’s when she starts getting a bit too airy for my taste. Also the music gets more and more layered — complex. She’s often at her best when she gets simple. But I don’t know that she ever produced a bad album.

          • Oh, I just meant your take on Aimee being a punch-you person. Perhaps you’ve met people who are aggressive that talked a lot like Mann sings. She certainly does the whole “blame ME? Oh, no, it’s YOU who’s to blame” thing. But I’ve always read that as defensive, not aggressive. Maybe because my history is less drag-down-knockout-arguments and more hearing “you are worthless” over and over, I think of Mann’s best songs as expressing what it feels like to be ignored.

            Nice Siberry recs, I’ll look them up at the library now. (busy morning, lots of internet things coming in!)

            • Ah! Well, I was exaggerating, but I meant it as a complement. I like Mann most when she is weary like in “Ray.” Clearly she isn’t a violent person, or she would have been arrested. If anyone deserves punching, it is Michael Penn (who I like, but still).

              • Don’t punch Michael Penn, his brother will beat you up!

                Thanks as always for responding to readers. I’ve got great library recs here. I’ll be so sad when libraries stop buying CDs.

                • Sometimes I really worry about abusing your patience with readers. I just read this horrid/amusing exchange between Sam Harris and Dr. Noam, where Harris is clearly saying “I’m a popular guy, why won’t you debate me in public to bolster my rep” and Chomsky responding, “I answer all correspondence and will answer yours but have no interest in wasting my remaining time publicly validating your ego.”


                  (The Young Turks had a nice bit on it.)

                  Man, Harris is a pure fool. He writes what power likes to hear without stepping over his own sentences, which I guess is a talent of sorts, and I think he does all his own work (some of these guys clearly use grad students.)

                  I’d hate to be Harris taking advantage of a guy who always responds to readers, though. Feel free to use some shorthand like STFU, JF when I overpresume.

                  • I read that exchange. I thought it was good of Harris to put it up. Of course, that may just be because he doesn’t realize how badly he comes off. I do think that Harris is a smart guy. He has a good scientific mind. His problem is that he gets messed up when dealing with less clear issues. If he weren’t famous for his beliefs, I would hold out hope for him figuring things out. But given that his income depends upon him continuing to believe such things, I don’t think there is much hope. You know the old Upton Sinclair line, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” The issues seem pretty simple to me, but a lot of liberals I know love Harris and don’t see the error in his thinking.

                    As for comments, it’s really nice to have them. When the blog first started, there were no comments. Now there are some. I’ve always had a problem with small blogs that ignore comments. But beyond that, I think the comment threads are often more interesting than the articles. Commenters are like free labor. Look at Eschaton: the commenters do almost all the work! I do hope that the day will come when I just can’t respond and when commenters discuss things with each other. Then you can just email me…

        • You might check out Love Is Everything: The Jane Siberry Anthology. I haven’t heard it but it provides a good overview of her career.

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