The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket

This song was the first I heard from the Pretenders. When I think of The Pretenders I think of this song. it wasn’t their best song but it is memorable. Most Pretenders songs were written solo by Hynde, but the group’s guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, is also a credited writer on this track.  The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100 and #1 in the UK in 1979.

In a VH1 interview, Hynde admitted to loathing the song, and said that since so many fans love it, she continues to play it.

From Songfacts.

Lead singer Chrissie Hynde grew up in Akron, Ohio and was a student at Kent State University in 1970 when four students were killed by members of the US National Guard. She left for England in 1973, where she formed the group with three guys from Hereford.

Chrissie Hynde rarely explained what her songs were about, but she let on with this one in a 1980 interview with Sounds: “It’s very lightweight pop type of song, nothing heavy about it. It’s along the lines of the guy who is feeling very insecure, not about pulling a girl but, say, trying to be accepted by the guys down the pub. It’s a front he’s putting up. It’s like buying a pair of new boots and you feel great but then you get home and see you spots in the mirror. Or take a couple of dexies and you’re in gear for the evening but on the train home it’s different.”

She had clearly internalized the British argot. “Pulling a girl” means finding a companion for the evening; “dexies” are Dexedrine pills, which give the user a jolt of energy. At the time, dexy abuse was common in the UK, especially amongst musicians and clubgoers. The band Dexys Midnight Runners took their name from the pill.

The song’s title came about after The Pretenders first-ever UK gig, when they were in the communal dressing room with The Strangeways, who they were supporting. Chrissie Hynde wanted to know whose trousers were sprawled over the back of a chair. One of The Strangeways Ada Wilson said: “I’ll have them if there’s any brass in the pockets.”

When Chrissie inquired what he meant by brass, it was explained to her that brass is a northern slang term for money. Chrissie fell in love with the expression and was inspired to write the song.

It usually doesn’t show up in printed lyrics, but at the end of the song, Hynde coos the line, “Oh and the way you walk.” She says that’s an important part of the song; it’s her telling the insecure peacock that she approves of his offering.

In the video, directed by Mark Robinson, lead singer Chrissie Hynde plays a waitress, implying that “brass” was the change she got from tips. Hynde worked as a waitress in the US before moving to London.

This was the breakout hit from the first Pretenders album, which was a triumph by any measure. In the UK, three singles were released before the album appeared. The first was a cover of The Kinks song “Stop Your Sobbing,” which was released in January 1979 and reached #34 in March 1979. “Kid” followed in June, going to #33 in August. In November, “Brass In Pocket” was released; it rose to the top in January 1980, and stayed at #1 for two weeks.

The album was also released in January 1980, and went to #1 in the UK. In America, it took a while for the group to get noticed. “Brass In Pocket” was the first single there, going to #14 in May 1980. “Stop Your Sobbing” followed, reaching #65 in July. The album is consistently cited as one of the greatest debuts in rock.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper from December 12, 2004, Chrissy Hynde said, “When we recorded the song I wasn’t very happy with it and told my producer that he could release it over my dead body, but they eventually persuaded me. So I remember feeling a bit sheepish when it went to #1.”

 

Brass in Pocket

Got brass in pocket
Got bottle, I’m gonna use it
Intention, I feel inventive
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

Got motion, restrained emotion
Been driving Detroit leaning
No reason, just seems so pleasing
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

[Chorus:]
Gonna use my arms
Gonna use my legs
Gonna use my style
Gonna use my side step
Gonna use my fingers
Gonna use my, my, my imagination

‘Cause I gonna make you see
There’s nobody else here
No one like me
I’m special so special
I gotta have some of your attention give it to me

Got rhythm I can’t miss a beat
Got new skank it’s so reet
Got something I’m winking at you
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

[Chorus]

‘Cause I gonna make you see
There’s nobody else here
No one like me
I’m special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention
Give it to me
‘Cause I gonna make you see
There’s nobody else here
No one like me
I’m special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention

Give it to me

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

14 thoughts on “The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket”

  1. I didn’t know Chrissy hated the song. Have you read her book by the way? Odd how some singers have grown to hate some of their most famous songs- Sinatra- My Way- and I think he also hated with a passion- Strangers In The Night… I don’t think Van is all that crazy about Brown Eyed Girl. I know there are others. Love the debut album and Brass In Pocket- probably the first song of theirs I ever heard.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was my introduction song to them. I didn’t know she hated it either. I’ve never read anything about the Chrissy or the Pretenders but I would not be against it. I know they had a rocky first few years with two members dying so close together.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t read the book- I thought it would probably be a great book as straightforward as she is but the reviews on the book that i’ve seen are mixed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The chapter I would really want to see would be her and Ray… He is not the easiest to get along with and she doesnt look like she would take much from anyone.
        I like Chrissy…She doesn’t seem to bend to anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My friend Dan had an art professor in college who years earlier had Chrissy in class. Dan had him in the early 80’s just as she was breaking as an artist- he asked the fella about her- and I recall Dan saying he said that she was very confident and head strong even then and took no crap from anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the one that sticks with me from them. It surprised me she didn’t like it…of course I don’t have to play it night after night.
      It took me a while when I first heard it to find out the name of the song. You can tell she was a fan of the Kinks…

      Liked by 1 person

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