I seem to be oscillating between new and old tunes, so forgive the mood swings- that’s what happens when a student is doing a psychiatry rotation, I suppose (not really, said student just likes to tie in Psych references every time she does anything bonkers). The artist formerly known as Pied Piper tried to give me an assignment- silly rabbit, Trix are for kids, of course supplying me with a song to consider never leads to any writing on my part! He wanted me to ponder one Pretenders song, but instead, just to be the royal pain in the neck that I am, I found myself drawn to a different one.
This, I think, is because I’m avoiding melancholy. There is something distressing, something which could lead to meltdowns and heartbreak, just around the corner. I know gut aches lie ahead. But I am willfully ignoring it all. I am sticking my fingers in my ears like a five year old, stomping my feet, chanting “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!”
And at a time like this, The Pretenders’ Message of Love is a nifty thing to have at the ready. As in my earlier post last month, I really do wonder what happened to all the bad-a$$es like Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde. Where did they come from, and why has no one carried on the torch? I remember the first time I heard Brass in Pocket, which coincided with the first time I saw the video- my reaction is best summed up as W. T. F.. Hynde is so strong. Her voice and the way she carries herself on stage, she just has this presence, this very do not f*** with me presence. And while the lyrics to Brass in Pocket are at face value almost arrogant, they are also longing, and she looks almost vulnerable in the video. I recall that I kind of loved that. Being a tomboy who could not decide whether she wanted to kick or kiss a boy, Hynde’s combination of confidence and yearning gave me a lot of hope.
As for Message of Love, this is just one of those songs. You know, at some point, I will compile a mix of songs that are guaranteed to cheer you up, and this will most definitely make the list. But it’s ten times better because it’s The Pretenders and it’s rock. I don’t know. When rock music is optimistic, not lewd or suggestive, not angry, not sarcastic or ironic, just optimistic, it’s so refreshing that you can’t help but grin. Message of Love starts with a catchy guitar and drum rhythm, the kind that makes your ears prop up a bit and pay attention. The lyrics show up, with Hynde’s usual combination of confidence and tenderness, and it may as well be gospel. Because Hynde’s lyrics, Wilde quote notwithstanding, are not that imaginative by any stretch. Message of Love is at its core quite a simple song in all regards. But I’m hard pressed to come up with a better argument for the less is more aesthetic than this song.
And as an added bonus, it wards off the other messages of love, the ones that involve uncertainty, disappointment, and loss. “Lalalala, I can’t hear you,” I yell again and crank up The Pretenders.