It feels like I don’t need to spend much time introducing The Pretenders. While the band might not fall into the “rock legends” column, a small, random sample of people under 30 had heard of them when I asked. Given that, I want to spend more time picking through things about the band that people maybe don’t know. For instance, raise your hand if you knew The Pretenders put out an album in 2016.
I’ll get to all that, but I should also start by acknowledging that I have only ever owned The Singles, a States-side, sum-of-their-career sort of release that included the bands’ most famous hits. I definitely have some favorites, but I didn’t appreciate the full stupidity of the Desert Island Disc concept until I sat down one recent morning to name a Top 5 from The Singles (in the event you follow me on twitter and spotted that tweet, yeah, this is where it came from). Even after I throw out (what I call) the dross – e.g., “Back on the Chain Gang” and that cover of “I Got You Babe” the Pretenders lead singer, Chrissie Hynde, put out with that dude from UB40 (sorry, UB40 feat. Chrissy Hynde) – the only thing I’m confident about is that whatever I landed on for a Top 5 would change from day to day.
For today, though, I’ll go with “Kid,” “Talk of the Town,” "Day After Day,” “Message of Love” (I’m a percussion nut, and I love what they do on those last two), and…really struggling on this last one…shit, shit, shit, uh, let’s go with “Hymn to Her.” Rather than bore you with the songs that lost out (for today), I’ll just say there’s something about that song that feels like some combination of brave and liberating…even as I sense that it’s not so much a song for me (am I alone in reading that as a feminist anthem?).