Thursday, October 12, 2023

Great Magazine Reads: The Pretenders in the running for the coolest ever

Honeymoon-Scott, Chambers, Hynde, Farndon (l-r)
I've always considered Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders one of the very most cool rockers - one of those people you would love to have at your dinner party. She pretty much remains the only original member of the band but she's still making pretty vital music, and she is one of those bucket-list artists I still need to see live someday.

Testament to her cool? Have anyone with a sense about rock music listen to "Message of Love" and "Tattooed Love Boys" and tell me The Pretenders are not as cool as it gets. Those James Honeymoon-Scott guitar licks are to die for and Hyde's vocal mannerisms ... there are no words.

I recently started reading Record Collector Magazine. Previously I didn't know it even existed, but an interview with Hynde quickly convinced me this monthly will be added to my regular rotation of magazine reading. (Try it and most other magazines on the Libby app, which is connected to your local library and is the best deal in town for mag lovers.) Here are some great tidbits from the interview:
  • When she was 17, Hynde drove with a friend from home in Akron (why are there so many great rockers from Ohio?) to Pittsburgh to see The Kinks in concert. She bumped into Ray Davies outside of the club and they caught each others' eye. Chrissie claims Ray would probably not remember that moment. Nevertheless, she wound up having a daughter with Davies in 1983.
  • After Hynde started The Pretenders, bassist Pete Farndon and lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott drummer both died from drug use. Drummer Martin Chambers stayed on for many years, but now Chrissie says, "It's not like I've retired Martin, but I'm a bit nervous about him on the road, because he's had some health issues."
  • The reporter asks her why she feels guilty for the deaths of her bandmates and she says, "Well, I didn't discourage the drug-taking, and I was part of it. So, you know, not that I was their mother, and we went on the road, and it was very hardcore."
  • Back On the Chain Gang was the first song Hynde and Chambers recorded after Jimmy and Pete died, which definitely adds levity to an already-great jam.
  • Like her friend Sir Paul McCartney, Hynde says, "I can't read music; I still go by the dots on the guitar. I don't even know most of the chord names. I'm not a great player, I just do my little thing and figure it out, but as far as the counting and everything, if someone says, 'You've missed a beat there,' in the early days, I would say, 'Well, that's how it goes, so just memorize it.'"
  • Way back, she left Akron and adopted London as her hometown, which is probably part of the reason she seems so exotic to those of us back in the U.S.A. When she first moved there, she got a job in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's famed boutique Truth Loves To Go Naked, which later became Sex, and was ground central for the Sex Pistols. She pretty quickly go fired.
  • The article notes that "the guitar all the way through Woman [by John Lennon] – it's just like Brass In Pocket. And John wrote it in Bermuda just a few months after Brass In Pocket had topped the chart." Hynde says "that's amazing" and says, "John, he is still my favourite singer of all time."
  • The interviewer asks, "The 1981 tour was a catalogue of atrocity. You were all drinking a lot and you got yourself arrested in Memphis – what for, exactly?" She responds, "I picked up this guy on the road who I'd known from Ohio. He showed up in Orlando, and he had a Corvette Stingray, and he was fun, so I brought him on the road for a while. We were in a bar called Friday's in Memphis [as featured on the back cover of Big Star's Radio City]. Everyone was in there – all the band and crew. I had to go to the loo and there was a long queue to the ladies’ room, so I went in the men's room, and this guy I was with, Scotty, he really had a go at me. He was trouble, and he was like, 'What are you doing, going in the men's room?' and I was saying, 'What's your problem?' Anyway, we ended up in a back room at Fridays, having an argument, and one of the waiters or managers came up to us and said, 'You have to move from this section, we're closing it.' And because I was loaded, I really took exception to this, and I said, 'Fuck you' – I wasn't going to leave. So, I ended up being stood on by a security guy while they called the police, who put me in the back of this police car with handcuffs on. I somehow slid my hands out of the cuffs and rolled the window down and said, 'Excuse me, constable, I believe these are yours.' So then that kicked off, and next thing you know, they're putting me in leg shackles and handcuffs behind my back. And again, because I was loaded, I kicked all the windows out of the police car. So, I had to spend the night in jail."
  • She had her second daughter with Jim "Don't You Forget About Me" Kerr of Simple Minds in 1985.
  • The Pretenders covered "Angel Of The Morning," which had previously been a huge hit for Juice Newton and which ended up on the Friends soundtrack. She didn't know anything about the show and it's eventual massic cultural impact, and she even traveled to L.A. to perform the song in the background at a coffee shop in an episode.
Finally, here are my favorite songs by The Pretenders:
Honorable mention: Creep (the band's live version of the Radiohead song is pretty, of course, cool)
11. 2,000 Miles (one of the great underrated holiday tunes)
10. Show Me
9. Mystery Achievement
8. Stop Your Sobbing
7. Kid
6. Back On the Chain Gang
5. Talk of the Town
4. Precious
3. Brass in Pocket
2. Message of Love
1. Tattooed Love Boys

No comments:

Post a Comment