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.

Chrissie Hynde

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.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

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.

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April 09, 2018
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