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“Looking ahead to Chrissie Hynde and the ‘Recklessness’ of Reality”

Making humor out of everything was the only thing for Chrissie Hynde. It’s what the world had done to her.

The Pretenders’ consummate catalogue of rock and roll is a prismatic onion, peelable by layers lyrical, musical, productional, et. al. “Back on the Chain Gang” strikes me as their best song, but I like it for neither lyrics nor production, solely music, so this bodes well for the band’s ability to be seminal, and not attempt to get by on shtick or histrionic. In other words, it’s music that had to be made, music without which there would exist a void, esp. in Middle America (Hynde hails from Akron, Oh.)

Chrissie Hynde’s book comes out tomorrow, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. Just as the band is British (with Hynde the lead singer the sole American), it’s been reported on heaviest by British outlets like the BBC, which picked up certain dialogues of Hynde’s youth, including a rape that happened to her by a gang of “tattooed love boys” (hence apparently spawning the track of that title on the Pretenders’ debut album). The cover of Reckless portrays Chrissie with her “hind” in the bathtub. It’s a spiritually gutting image, plundering of the enlightened onlooker’s morale, before woman’s ability to self-martyr. And really, it’s a good, pretty becoming picture of her, especially for her age. It actually puts me more in the mood for making love to a woman, than it does for reading about rock and roll, or even listening to it. Hynde’s forehead is high, her chin is up, and her eyes have a vivid look in them. But the whole scene disgusts me, for a different reason, which is that of the book’s impending subject matter.

Reckless strikes me as tabloid, albeit that which had to come out. But for me, a rock and roll fan, it’s not, I think, designed. It is to be a book of busybodies, talkers. We listen to rock and roll in order to escape reality. There’s already not enough good rock and roll in the world, at least not enough truly bubbling to the surface, [1] the last thing I need is more reality. I’ve seen reality, it’s rape, it’s sexism, it’s an Ohio girl having to go overseas, or find an all-girl band like Kim Deal did down in Dayton, in order to thrive, and even then to never really get the props they deserved.

I don’t listen to rock and roll to be manly. Rock and roll feels, rape doesn’t. Kim Gordon’s memoir was dull, in my opinion. I don’t think Reckless is in any danger of falling into that category. What I’m worried about is the opposite: that reading it will pi** me off so bad that I’ll instantly go get a gun, find some redneck rapist scum and shoot him dead, doomed then to a life in jail. And I hate jail cell walls. They’re like the fu**ing BMV. But it makes you wonder, is the whole thing worth it, the travails one woman has to go through so that we can enjoy a song like “Back on the Chain Gang” with our pops, or whoever, following a football game, or whatever. This is what we get, folks. This is our ration, or momentary, melodic and rhythmic escape from reality. It is a truth with which we combat life’s own intrinsic falsehood, which is that we will someday leave this form, will someday die; which is that life is a thing that kills what’s living inside you, and then kills you as a whole. If I wanted to die sooner, I think I’d choose to be “reckless” enough to pick up this book.

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[1] Though I have discovered an entourage of great bands lately: Radioactivity, Porcupine Tree, The Mosquitos, the psychedelic thrash metal of Sweden’s Refused.

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