Pretenders – Middle of the Road

What strong song by Chrissie Hynde after two of her band members die and leaving Ray Davies.

She wrote this song, which finds her coping with transition and approaching middle age. Following the 1981 Pretenders album Pretenders II, two of the four band members – Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott – died of drug overdoses, leaving just Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers, who remained the mainstays in the band amongst a rotating cast of guitarists and bass players.

This song peaked at #19 in the Billboard 100 in 1984.

From Songfacts

“Middle of the Road” is Chrissie Hynde’s credo. She told the Austin American-Statesman: “My personal discipline has been to try to stay in the middle, always, no matter what I’m doing. If I buy a jacket and it comes in three sizes, I want a medium. You have to learn how to temper yourself and hold back till you get to the end.”

Toward the end of the song, Hynde sings about the media hounding her. She has always tried to keep her private life to herself.

On this track, Hynde sings, “I got a kid, I’m 33.”

She was actually 32 when the song was released as a single in late 1983. In January that year, she had a daughter, Natalie, who she was raising as a single mother after leaving the father, Ray Davies from the Kinks.

A little after the 3-minute mark, Hynde lets loose one of the most famous yowls in rock. The feline inflection plays to the line, “I’m not the cat I used to be.”

Middle of the Road

The middle of the road is trying to find me
I’m standing in the middle of life with my plans behind me
Well I got a smile for everyone I meet
As long as you don’t try dragging my bay
Or dropping the bomb on my street

Now come on baby
Get in the road
Oh come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah

In the middle of the road you see the darnedest things
Like fat guys driving ’round in jeeps through the city
Wearing big diamond rings and silk suits
Past corrugated tin shacks full up with kids
Oh man I don’t mean a Hampstead nursery
When you own a big chunk of the bloody third world
The babies just come with the scenery

Oh come on baby
Get in the road
Oh come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah

The middle of the road is no private cul-de-sac
I can’t get from the cab to the curb
Without some little jerk on my back
Don’t harass me, can’t you tell
I’m going home, I’m tired as hell
I’m not the cat I used to be
I got a kid, I’m thirty-three

Baby, get in the road
Come on now
In the middle of the road

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

13 thoughts on “Pretenders – Middle of the Road”

  1. Some of the best songs The Pretenders ever did – on that album- “Middle Of The Road”, “My City Has Gone” and of course the magnificent “Back On The Chain Gang.” Great selection hear first thing in the morning!

    Liked by 2 people

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