THIS IS NOT ABOUT (YOU KNOW WHO)…
She pointed her tambourine at my friend and shook it, as Marie Laveau might have pointed a bone to cast a spell. Pure anger ripped through her body and my poor sensitive soul ingested it. It cut right through me like a knife in my gut and I was filled with fear.
I took a step backward and put my camera away in my bag.
“You know, I fuckin’ hate being Chrissie Hynde,” she said. There was a collective intake of breath from the audience and I suddenly didn’t want to be standing so close to one of my heroes. The joy of realizing that we had front row standing room in a light crowd had turned into a kind of terror and I took another step backwards. It was a small crowd and we were all visible in the soft light from the stage so she could see the unwitting fans who stood with iphones poised to take a picture of the legend that she is.
“Take a picture of him, that’s what this is all about!” she snapped. I shuddered again as she pointed to J.P. We all looked. ‘Seems like a nice enough bloke,’ I thought, ‘but I guarantee he is NOT the reason most of us have bothered to come out to the Exit/In, Nashville on this Saturday night. We’ve never heard of him before and most certainly haven’t heard his music.
No. The word around town was that ‘Chrissie Hynde is playing tonight!’ In fact, it was ALL about her.
It started some years ago with a song called ‘Brass In Pocket’ and a video where Ms. Hynde plays a waitress in a little diner somewhere in Nowheresville who makes eyes at Peter Farndon (the svelte Pretenders’ bassplayer). From that opening guitar figure, which sounded to my ears like the actual Bells Of Rhymney, we were hooked: that one of a kind voice with the bird-like vibrato and the beautiful tone, with her American diction so cool, lying on a bed of British New Wave, the dream guitar combination of her Telecaster and James Honeyman-Scott’s Les Paul and the sweet harmonies of Martin Chambers sitting just right.
Add all that up. That’s where it started and that’s why we’re here.
And we weren’t some bunch of dumb asses calling out for Pretenders songs. We were there to give her a go and hear what new stuff she was going to play, unlike the rest of Nashville who had no doubt stayed away because she WASN’T going to play Pretenders songs. No, we knew she wasn’t and we went anyway because she is one of the gods of rock who was given a pass through the Golden Door of Rock’n’Roll Legend. Success that some of us only dream of – to be Chrissie Hynde, to have a band as great as The Pretenders.
She hates being Chrissie Hynde. Well try being one of us for a day or perhaps a limbless beggar in the streets of Afghanistan…
I had to regain my composure and stepped to the back of the small crowd. I needed to vent. Next to me was a young man leaning on a walking cane. I told him I was afraid. He seemed sympathetic, if a bit bemused by this stranger’s revelation.
After some time my shock subsided and I was able to hear the music again. Some killer pop songs with the Chrissie Hynde touch! What a great songwriter! Her Telecaster was silver spangled and she played those big, ringing, open chords. ‘More guitars,’ I thought. ‘Turn up her amp!…. And why is that lead guitarist playing a Strat?? Now if I could just play my Les Paul in this band!…’ But I guarantee she’d never ask me, especially after writing this blog.
I didn’t know any of the songs but I DID enjoy them. Maybe she hasn’t played for a few years. Not since the time, not so long ago, when you couldn’t take cameras into a show. Well how can you stop someone taking in their iphone? I used to hate when people started videoing any old show, good or bad sound. But I’ve had to get used to it. How can you stop the rain from falling down?
Her voice is still every bit as beautiful and she still has the presence and the look. Whether she likes it or not, she is still Chrissie Hynde and we love her for it.
(Chrissie, P.J. & The Fairground Boys – On Tour Now. Recommended.)