A Few Words on Chrissie Hynde’s Memoir “Reckless”

Chrissie Hynde 2011 Courtesy of Getty Images

Several years ago, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders published a  memoir (Reckless) recounting the crazy, harrowing and generally badass nature of her life. Back in the ’70s, she left the hinterlands of Akron, Ohio to head to London. For a time, she wrote for the New Musical Express (the “NME,” for those of us who could get imported copies). For another time, she sold handbags on the streets and worked in a clothing store owned by Malcolm McLaren (who discovered the Sex Pistols). She nearly married Sid Vicious (didn’t we all). Chrissie was genuinely devoted to finding her tribe – and found it, in the form of Martin Chambers (drums), James Honeyman Scott (guitar) and Pete Farndon (bass). They formed the Pretenders, this mashup of a restless American and three Brits equally obsessed with music.

Their first album was viciously in-your-face, a reflection, perhaps, of the trip Chrissie had taken to “the dark side” back in Ohio. Bikers, drugs, gang rape and lots more drama, all of which is recounted in the book. From the time of that breakout album onwards, she has remained unapologetic and defiant. Her influence can be seen in younger female artists from Alanis Morrisette to Pink to – god help me – Miley Cyrus.

what is punk

But Chrissie is not impressed, at least not with the most current crop of pop stars. During an interview with the BBC, she ripped the likes of Miley and other female singers who strut around in little more than butt-floss and pasties:

“Maybe they’re feminists on behalf of prostitutes – but they are no feminists on behalf of music if they are selling their music by bumping and grinding and wearing their underwear in videos. That’s a kind of feminism – but, you know, you’re a sex worker is what you are. I think it’s provocative in a way that has nothing to do with music. I would say those women are responsible for a great deal of damage.”

Hmm. While I’m no fan of the relentless Instagram-and-Twitter vanity fest of gals like Miley (put your tongue back in your head, girl), I wonder if there’s a touch of “get off my lawn” in Chrissie’s rant. Your thoughts? And in the meantime, enjoy some vintage Pretenders awesomeness:

Cindy Grogan

Photo Credit: Chrissie Hynde pic by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame

Other Posts You Might Like

24 comments on “A Few Words on Chrissie Hynde’s Memoir “Reckless”

  1. […] PS. While we’re on the topic of cool new books, you might enjoy our posts Would You Give This Guy a Ride? A Different Kind of E Book and Chrissie vs. Miley. […]

  2. […] PS. While we’re on the subject of new albums, you might be interested in What Would Bowie Do? and David Bowie: Sometimes Three Years Are Better Than Five which look at David Bowie’s final work, Blackstar. And if you want a look at another badass, check out our post Chrissie vs. Miley. […]

  3. […] While we’re on the subject of powerhouse female singers, check out our post Chrissie vs. Miley for more on Chrissie Hynde and her thoughts on the latest group of pop stars. And speaking of […]

  4. […] while we’re on the subject, you may also appreciate our recent posts on The Wrecking Crew and Chrissie Hynde (one of the cameos). Lastly, be sure to check out Love and Mercy, 2015’s feature film depicting […]

  5. Randall Lee Reetz

    Miley is not on the same planet let alone lawn as the great Chrissie. The comparison is absurd. Chrissie’s comment is a lement, morning the absence of honesty in discussions about music today.

  6. I think she doth protest too much!
    She sold her music on looks and sex appeal just as much.

    • Kevin Steele

      Yeah, but with her clothes on!

    • James Jones

      Yes, but Chrissie had and has style and class of a sort that Miley Cyrus could never achieve.

    • Chrissy sold her music because it was fucking GREAT! And because she was a BAD ASS!
      No comparison to Miley or any of the other pop girls.

  7. She is dead on about “musicians” lime Cyrus. I think the author is taking the essy way out by tossing a cliche instead of giving Hynde’s comment anybreal thought. Seems typical in internet journalism today.

  8. I bought the Pretenders first album for the music, It was part of the music that saved us from songs like the night Chicago Died, and Chevy Van on the one hand and Disco and Arena rock on the other. Along with the Clash , the Ramones , The Talking Heads, the Pretenders stripped rock and roll back to its essence and to hell with the excess. Miley Crisis who’s she , or is it Miley Cluless ? Chrissie Hynde had and does have the musical chops to make great rock and roll, Check out Live in London if you think not, and for Gods sake somebody get Miley a fresh bottle and a diaper and shut her country ass up !

  9. I Love Chrissie and her opinion is that of a free spirit that believes in showing inner talents without persuasive, provocative, suggestions. No biggie.

  10. Yes, Miley is a brat and she’s half dressed lots of the time, but she a much better vocalist then Chrissie, musically speaking.

    • You could not be more wrong. Chrissie has one of the expressive, unique voices since Lady Day.

  11. Like Chrissie herself said years ago, “Rock and roll isn’t fuck me, it’s fuck you!”

  12. Wayne Chapman

    A better comparison could be made to those who resemble her on some level like Karen O and Leslie Feist. Chrissie Hynde has never come to mind when I see Miley Cyrus perform, so I wouldn’t hold her to the same standards. Ultimately, we have to look at the music and ask ourselves if it’s worth our time. Prince wasn’t exactly subtle when it came to exploiting sexuality as part of his act, but there’s no denying how brilliant he was as a musician. Miley Cyrus will never be that talented or influential, but she does fill a void for quite a few young ladies who feel repressed because they’re told they need to behave a certain way. People see only a fraction of these musicians’ lives and judge them harshly without the benefit of knowing who they really are and where they’ve come from. Thank goodness THEY’RE not out there under the scrutiny of the public at large cause I doubt they’d last long under the microscope.

  13. Chrissie plays guitar….and knows the notes and the Chords and scales.
    The Teen Pop Tarts don’t know anything about music

  14. Miley’s grown into an amazing artist, and Chrissie should not be shaming another woman over her clothing.
    Miley covering Dolly Parton:
    Miley with Billy Idol:
    Miley covering Dylan:

    And yeah, she composes and plays on multiple instruments:

  15. Hynde is complaining about showing off your body to get attention? Funny….she did the EXACT SAME THING in the seventies:

    Pot…meet kettle. SMH

  16. Billy Brown

    Get off my lawn? Comparing Chrissie Hynde and Miley Cyrus is like comparing Filet Mignon to Sloppy Joe’s. Not even in the same ballpark at all.

  17. Cosmo Lupertazzi

    Awesomeness isn’t the half of it. “Talk of the Town” is one of several Pretenders songs that are so well done as to be eternally in my mind. This time for some reason I listened to the bass track. I always hear something fantastically intriguing in their tunes. RIP Pete, and James.

Leave a Reply (and please be kind!)