|Bastards. I abandoned them on the spot. After we hung up the phone, that was it. I had no idea when he called that
I was speaking to him for the last time. I don't give people more than one chance. Or I rarely do. I wouldn't expect
anyone to take me back if I'd been shitty to them. Even if someone else is forgiving, I don't think I could live
with my own guilt. I'm extremely careful of how I treat people. If you're going to kick me, do it as hard as you
can 'cuz you're only ever going to get the one chance.
"Do unto others as you wish be done to you/There's a million lies around everything true..." It's not
one of my favourite Pretenders songs for nothin'.
I still had Taunia to write to. Soon, our letters were 20-plus pages long, 40 if you count front and back. She
became very good at reading my handwriting, which even I can't read half the time. I'd once sent some little doo-dad
to her and didn't have any packaging for it so I cut up the letter to add as "padding". She sat there
and taped it back together. All of it. It had been 15 sheets - 30 pages front and back - and I'd cut it into very
small pieces. Thus far, I'd made myself known to her as relentless, demanding, vulgar and impatient. Now I was
just plain annoying, too. But apparently I'd also been generous, soft-hearted, optimistic, loyal and clever and
she liked the strange combination. The fact that she taped that huge letter back together blew my mind. I couldn't
possibly have said anything that was going to change the world in that letter. But she was interested enough in
what I had to say that she would sit on the floor for however long it took taping the damn thing back together.
It took eight hours and two rolls of tape.
The Pretenders played Live Aid. I thought it'd be great to fly to Philadelphia for it, but the fact that I didn't
have a ticket for the show sat in my way. A few weeks after Live Aid, I ran into Craig, the Simple Minds fan who'd
been with us in Berkeley. He told me he'd had two tickets, but no way to get to Philly for the show. Dammit, I'd
have been thrilled to pay his airfare in exchange for one of those tickets! Needless to say, we were both bummed
about that for quite some time.
1985 sped into 1986.
My job began making me nervous. I wondered when or if I would escape. I'd already been there a couple of years
and we all know how that usually turns out...
I read somewhere -- Rolling Stone? -- a quote from Martin. They were talking about how the Pretenders were in the
studio recording. And Martin was not. He said something like, "I don't even know if she wants to work with
me again." I fumed. And felt really bad for Martin. Apparently he was going to be on "some" of the
tracks. It turned out to be one track. The one really good one.
What in hell was she doing?
The original lineup was a band. Everyone was equal. Do you think Honeyman-Scott would have hesitated to yell at
Chrissie if she hadn't put forth her best? Oh hell no.
I remember her telling a story in an interview about how they'd come off stage one night and he did lay into her.
She quoted him as yelling, "You played like crap! And if you ever play like that again, I'm not working
with you anymore!"
But the point is, they were equal. Then what happened?
Two new guys came into the territory. The scales tipped. Did Robbie ever yell at Chrissie? I bet not. But who cares?
By that time, the damage was done.
There was one thing I knew, Martin unconscious behind the drums was still better than anyone else.
I also read a Hynde quote from this time -- she was saying she'd like to move in another direction. What the...?
The Pretenders had never fit into a box. They'd had songs that were punk, pop, rock, new wave and even country.
They'd managed to touch just about every base there was. What was left?
Suddenly, it was late 1986.
"Don't Get Me Wrong" hit the airwaves. Huh. It wasn't too bad. And it wasn't too good, either. I knew
immediately that wasn't Martin drumming. I thought, "Damn, that sounds like Mel Gaynor." And it was!
That's not something I'm particularly good at, noticing people's styles of playing. Not even that -- I couldn't
tell you about anyone's "style" in a million years. I'd been listening to Simple Minds for years and
it really did sound just like him. I figured it must have been the most obvious thing on the planet if I
Someone I worked with used to sing "Don't Get Me Wrong", always starting with the guitar part like "Dink
dinka dinka dinka, dink dinka dinka dinka..." I never let him get too much farther into it because then it
got really cheesy. He was just flirting and wanted me to chase him, which I did. Then there was, "Sure, I'll
give you a piece of gum... if you can shut up for three minutes. Ready to start now? Dink dinka dinka dinka..."
Every day I'd ask Theresa, "When's the Pretenders new single going to be released?" Every day she'd say
"I don't know yet. Stop asking me."
One day I was sitting on the couch and she came in (she often came over after work before going home, just to see
if I wanted to go do something... besides, we had food at our house). I asked and this time her answer was different.
"It's coming out tomorrow." "Oh." Then it sank in, "OH! REALLY?" "But,"
she held something out, "I got a copy for you today."
I ripped it from her hand and bolted down the hall towards my room and the turntable. She was right behind me.
"Don't listen to the B-side. I'm not kidding."
When I put the B-side on, "Dance!" started. I made a face. Theresa laughed. "I told you. It really
bites." I was mortified. Few could have heard this yet -- the public wasn't going to get it until the
following day. All I could think was "It's not too late -- they could pull the single. My god, people
are going to hear this!"
I headed for Tower Records early to pick up Get Close the day it was released. I remember seeing the thick, white
line from far off. They had a heap of them in the front of the Pretenders section of the record bin. I knew precisely
where it was and could spot it from anywhere in the store.
I made my purchase and opened the record while exiting the store. I pulled the inner sleeve out and tried to read
all of the lyrics and song titles at once, wanting to absorb everything in one go.
I looked at the cover, flipped it over. Who was this? And who was that? And what's going on here? Hold your noses,
kids, the new Pretenders album is coming out.
"Chill Factor" is great. And of course "Room Full of Mirrors." "Don't Get Me Wrong"
is OK. I like it a lot more now than I did back then.
I listened to the album, for a song or two. Then I couldn't stand it anymore and just went through the songs by
dropping the needle on it. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. OHMYGODEXTRAYUCK! Yuck.
Oh boy. Now what? It was... well, yucky.
I remember standing there not knowing what to do. Would I like the songs later, after I was more familiar with
them? Maybe... but I didn't think so. Finally a new Pretenders album... and I hated it!
This was not the Pretenders. I adore Chrissie, but lord, don't take the woman out of her band.
They toured. This tour was in the expanse of time when Bass ticket outlets were having huge problems. Employees
were hoarding tickets -- the best seats -- then scalping them. Nice to see such honest people. I just can't get
enough of those folks who want to know what's in it for them. What a pleasure.
So you'd be the first in line, the tickets would go on sale, and employees everywhere in the area at every location
would buy up (or "hold") the first, and best, available, and you'd end up in the last row on the floor.
If you happened to be damn lucky.
Tickets were to go on sale for this band's show at -- the Oakland Arena? Do you know how big the Oakland
Arena is? Front row there is last row balcony everywhere else. Displeased as I was about the location, and
the lineup, and the music, I was still going to get in line a few hours early.
I arrived at Tower Records in Campbell. The line for tickets was all the way around the inside of the store and
out the door. Wonderful. Just add to my friggin' delight. After awhile I noticed -- these people could not be Pretenders
fans. When I inquired, I discovered that Grateful Dead tickets were going on sale.
Maybe the Dead show sold out and all those people got out of line. I don't know -- who cares anyhow. Fifteen...
ten plus five... minutes after tickets went on sale, I had mine -- and I was waaaaaay up on the side, in the back.
There was a warning on the tickets -- you'd need to arrive the day before the event to begin the ascent to your
seat. And make sure you duck for airplanes.
Where had the magic gone?