Monday, May 7, 2018

Musical Monday - Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: January 19, 1980 through January 26, 1980.

Songs like Brass in Pocket are the reason I decided to include the UK Charts in my 1980s project. This was the Pretenders first big hit, and reached #1 in the United Kingdom, but had slightly less success in the U.S., peaking at number fourteen. I[m not entirely sure if there is a deeper meaning in this kind of divergence between the Billboard and Cash Box charts and the UK Charts, but it is interesting to see how different the tastes of those in the two counties are.

One additional thing that makes the UK-oriented success of this song interesting is that it contains a some Midwestern-based (specifically Central Ohio-based) slang, such as the reference to the "Detroit lean", although most of the sang used in the song is decidedly British, which makes for a set of lyrics that only really make sense if you spend some time studying what they mean, or happen to have had the exact same life experience as Hynde, who grew up in Ohio, but moved to the U.K. in her early twenties.

That last fact is probably part of the reason that Hynde didn't want this song released as a single. She has said in interviews that she didn't think people would understand the lyrics and didn't think that the song would be very successful. Instead, the song went on to be one of the most successful records produced by the band, and was a concert staple for them for years. I note this fact because this seems to be an example of an artist not knowing that the art they have produced is as good as it actually is. This phenomenon doesn't occur often enough that I would call it "common", but it isn't all that uncommon either.

This isn't the first video that I saw Chrissie Hynde in: I first encountered the Pretenders when I saw a video they had made for their cover of the Kinks song Stop Your Sobbing, which they released as a single in the U.K. before Brass in Pocket. Brass in Pocket, however, is the song that forever cemented Chrissie's position as a rock goddess in my mind.

Previous Musical Monday: Rock With You by Michael Jackson
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Special A.K.A. Live! [Too Much Too Young] by the Special A.K.A. featuring Rico

Previous #1 on the UK Chart: Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) by Pink Floyd
Subsequent #1 on the UK Chart: The Special A.K.A. Live! [Too Much Too Young] by the Special A.K.A. featuring Rico

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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