I like The Pretenders – good bunch of singles, most of the really good ones still sound close to great too. But I’ve never been a massive fan. I don’t much like Chrissie Hynde. She seems needlessly angry, jumped up and fronting. And spare me the fucking vegetarian speeches, I came to hear you sing your songs…
So quite what I was expecting from her memoir I’m not sure – but I was expecting more than this.
Because, well, line it up – married for a time to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds (I think they met here in NZ didn’t they?) and a tempestuous relationship with Ray Davies (some good covers of his very fine songs too). Then there’s the songwriting she managed, the band she created and held together, the fact she started as an NME writer…so many things to tick off.
Instead we get far too much about her childhood. So much so – and it’s so fucking boring – that when she comes to write herself and her music-writing career off we have no choice to believe her. She’s already shown us she’s a shoddy writer long before she spells it out.
Somewhere here though are some wonderful stories about rock’n’roll fandom. And there’s that determined, dogged spirit, sure. But it’s odd to think that she doesn’t even mention Kerr, and the book stops just as the Pretenders get together and get the sniff of success.
Over far too many pages, given how much is left out, we hear all about the rock bands and soul acts she grew up idolising and all about her passion for the music. That much should be obvious. This comes across – in that sneering, lecturing way of her interview approach and stage manner – as trying way too hard.
Perhaps in that sense this book is honest. But it’s also only half-honest as it’s only half of her story. The rock’n’roll-fandom part. Would have been nice to know a bit more than why she ticks; ie: how she ticks/why she keeps ticking. But no. You can buy tickets to her show to hear about that. In and around some boring recipes for a meat-less life.