In case nobody noticed, I have a thing for loud-voiced women singing in front of heavy electric-guitar noise. Any list of those has to have Chrissie Hynde near the top. She wrote and sings this, provides some of the guitar noise herself, and throws in a triumphant harmonica break.
Her voice is unique. She’s from Akron, Ohio and her intonation is pure Middle American White Girl, none of the traditional Southern or Black or British rock-vocal angles. There’s considerable songwriting and arranging skill in setting things up so her not-terribly-high not-terribly-sharp not-terribly-scratchy voice cuts through all the guitar chording. Anyhow, I love the way she sounds
Learning to Crawl is probably the Pretenders’ best album, and you could have a long argument about the best tune on it, because it’s got Chain Gang and My City Was Gone. But Middle of the Road burns brightest, rocks hardest, and then a lot of us can relate to Don't harass me, can't you tell / I'm going home, I'm tired as hell / I'm not the cat I used to be / I got a kid, I'm thirty-three.
I caught the tour that went with the album and it was good but not brilliant. They made a big mistake by having Iggy Pop open — never do that — and maybe it was just an off night, but while they gave strong performances of the big songs, it didn’t feel like they were really bringing it. Except for, during Middle of the Road they lit up, Chrissie went into full howl and then launched her harmonica. Anyhow, in recent years she plays it way better than back when she was only thirty-three; check the video linked below.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify. As for live video, brace yourself for this one; Chrissie is several decades past thirty-three and absolutely blows out the fucking walls; she’s assembled a really sharp version of the band, too; mind you, some members are younger than the song. Wow.