This one has been difficult for me to write. Because when push comes to shove, I worship Chrissie Hynde. I wanted to be Chrissie when I didn’t want to be Debbie or Stevie or Patti. But Stevie did drugs, and Patti was out of the industry raising her kids, and Debbie was somewhere only she knew in 1990. Chrissie was it for me. Her attitude was different. Stevie had that dippy gypsy persona with the flowing dresses and the sky-high heels, singing about dreams, thunder, and… well, gypsies. Debbie was beautiful and glamorous, with a breathy, Marilynesque persona with a reggae, forward thinking beat. And Patti was Patti. You can never be Patti. But Chrissie was real. She looked fantastic but also looked the part of a rock star. She was smart, talented, beautiful, and fearless. She’s a great person to aspire to be like.
It’s also daunting, and when you fall short- well, you still have the albums.
I still haven’t come to terms that I will never be Chrissie Hynde, or like Chrissie Hynde. I want to wear fake leather jackets and play cool songs with a great and timeless shag haircut and just be AWESOME. I want to sing a line like “I got a new stank so reet” and get away with it. I want to be COOL.
My children will be the first to tell you, as they sit over their watching me type this in my yoga gear, that I am not cool. But then again, they only can remember that Chrissie was in an episode of Friends.
The music itself is Kinks/Beatles inspired rock with fantastic attitude and strong melodies. The songs are fun, bright, bouncy songs even when the lyrical content runs a bit darker. I’m pretty sure one of the first reasons I loved the Pretenders so much is because of songs like “Brass In Pocket”, the epitome of sassy rocker chick, or their cover of “Stop Your Sobbing”. Frankly, if you cover a Kinks song without turning it to hash, I’ll probably be your biggest fan.
There is a sense of melancholy that laces its way through some of these songs. “Kid” is part nostalgia, part lecture, but all wistful. There are also the rage of songs like “Precious” and “The Wait”. Chrissie as a lyricist pulled no punches. She swore, she spat fury, she didn’t all with a whisper. When you take Chrissie and compare her to the screamers of the Riot Grrl nation a decade later, as wonderful as they were, Chrissie still cut an imposing figure. She was vicious with her words, and didn’t feel that she had to scream to be heard.
Ultimately, Chrissie was a lucky girl. She ended up in England at a time of great societal shift and ended up being a part of the punk scene that knew Sid Vicious and hung out with Siouxsie Sioux. Now, she’s the woman we rocker girls all aspired to be and lament our inability to match her. It’s no one’s fault. There can only be one Chrissie Hynde, after all. Still-
I wanna be her when I finally grow up.