Monday, December 31, 2007

Chrissie Hynde Vs. Dracula




No cinematic version of Dracula has yet bothered to capture the real romance at the heart of Bram Stoker's novel: the platonic love affair between one girl and four admiring men: Van Helsing, Harker, that cowboy dude, and Mina. The affliction of having been victimized by the vampire --who is never portrayed as romantic or sympathetic in the book--has put Mina into a sort of twilit telepathic contact with the creature... she can go into a trance and feel all his sensory perception - the sound of the lapping waves and the smell of sea air for example, let's the hunting party know their vampire quarry is on the boat.

Similarly is the band the Pretenders, before they broke up and lost two of their members. Before that happened they released two great albums: Pretenders and Pretenders 2. All the critics agree the first album is clearly superior and I wont argue on whatever points they make, but I'll say that Pretenders 2 is my favorite. Yeah there's some songs where it's like who cares, like "Jealous Dogs" and "The Adultress" that seems like they're just out of ideas and somewhat cowed by the sudden success of their previous albums. But on the songs they clearly took their time with, you got some real great heartbreak with the whole Ray Davies thing, them being in love, having a kid and the gut-wrenching song "Two Birds of Paradise." And then my personal favorite, "The English Roses." Why do I love it? The bass, man. That's a bass player's song. And yet I can't even remember the guy's name.

One of the things that make the band so great is the relation of these debauched fleeting mortal Brits to Ohio ex-pat Chrissie Hynde, who brings a sense of misguided nurturing, the sort of girlfriend that's not girly but plays as rough as the boys and yet is twice the vulnerable girl. The sense you get of them in a song is this girl getting onto her feet after some traumatic experience and still tough as nails, and her band of fellas backing her up with their wooden stakes at the ready and not a trace of fear in their hearts due to their sense of brotherhood and collective love for her. This was the sort of love the lads all felt for Queen Elizabeth or Guinevere in the days of Arthur. The Brits and Jack White and I understand, even if the dumbasses like Xander and Lancelot don't, Chrissie. Not all love is cock and bull; some transcends everything, even the duality of good and evil, of sex and no sex, of absence and presence-- this is the sort of love worth dying for, even if it is in a car crash.

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1 comment:

  1. Although P2 is my Bible, P2 contains my favorite-est Pretenders song, and the one that really sums up everything that's genius about Chrissie Hynde ("Talk of the Town"). Although, technically, it was recorded as a single (UK) and E.P. fodder (US) between the two albums...

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