It was an easy choice for me this week when I saw the prompts for Song Lyric Sunday. Jim Adams, our host, handed the prompt reins to Angie Trafford for her suggestions. She has given us Fraud, Hypocrite, Phony, Pretender and Snob. I instantly thought of The Pretender by Jackson Browne. An old favorite that I just happened to hear few days ago. I hope you enjoy it.
This song is about a man who gives up his dreams and lives a life of routine monotony in order to accumulate money. He is the pretender.
In a 1997 interview with Mojo magazine, Browne said of this song: “I’m a big fan of ambiguity and its bountiful rewards, and ‘The Pretender’ is two things at once. It’s that person in all of us that has a higher ideal, and the part that has settled for compromise – like Truffaut says, there’s the movie you set out to make, and there’s the one you settle for. But in a more serious way, ‘The Pretender’ is about ’60s idealism, the idea of life being about love and brotherhood, justice, social change and enlightenment, those concepts we were flooded with as our generation hit its stride; and how, later, we settled for something quite different. So when I say ‘Say a prayer for The Pretender,’ I’m talking about those people who are trying to convince themselves that there really was nothing to that idealism.”
Browne’s first wife, Phyllis, committed suicide in the spring of 1976, but in the wake of the tragedy he recorded his commercial breakthrough album, The Pretender. The record climbed into the Top 10 upon its fall 1976 release, going platinum in the spring of 1977.
This appears on the soundtrack of the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus.
Browne said in Rolling Stone, October 16, 2008: “‘The Pretender’ took a long time. It’s not that I worked on it every day; I was reluctant to finish it before I had gotten all there was out of it. Songwriting is a search. Most of my songs set up a bunch of questions, and it takes a while to answer them.”
Jackson Browne told Mojo magazine in 2015: “It’s grappling with the question of whether the life you’re living is the life you thought you were heading for. ‘The Pretender’ is an open question: Do you find life’s best qualities by having children and a job, or in tearing those things down?”
I'm going to rent myself a house In the shade of the freeway Gonna pack my lunch in the morning And go to work each day And when the evening rolls around I'll go on home and lay my body down And when the morning light comes streaming in I'll get up and do it again Amen Say it again Amen I want to know what became of the changes We waited for love to bring Were they only the fitful dreams Of some greater awakening I've been aware of the time going by They say in the end it's the wink of an eye When the morning light comes streaming in You'll get up and do it again Amen Caught between the longing for love And the struggle for the legal tender Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring And the junk man pounds his fender Where the veterans dream of the fight Fast asleep at the traffic light And the children solemnly wait For the ice cream vendor Out into the cool of the evening Strolls the Pretender He knows that all his hopes and dreams Begin and end there Ah the laughter of the lovers As they run through the night Leaving nothing for the others But to choose off and fight And tear at the world with all their might While the ships bearing their dreams Sail out of sight I'm gonna find myself a girl Who can show me what laughter means And we'll fill in the missing colors In each other's paint by number dreams And then we'll put our dark glasses on And we'll make love until our strength is gone And when the morning light comes streaming in We'll get up and do it again Get it up again I'm gonna be a happy idiot And struggle for the legal tender Where the ads take aim and lay their claim To the heart and the soul of the spender And believe in whatever may lie In those things that money can buy Thought true love could have been a contender Are you there Say a prayer for the Pretender Who started out so young and strong Only to surrender Say a prayer for the pretender Are you there for the pretender Say a prayer for the pretender Are you there for the pretender Are you prepared for the pretender Writer/s: Jackson Browne Publisher: FLAT TOWN MUSIC CO., A DIV. OF SWALLOW PUBLICATIONS, INC. Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind