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Jackson Browne — The Pretender
Album: The Pretender
Avg rating:
7.5

Your rating:
Total ratings: 723









Released: 1976
Length: 5:48
Plays (last 30 days): 1
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
Though 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?
Comments (53)add comment
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?

Dear Mr. Browne:  I, too, want to know what became of our dreams from the 60s.  Are we all a generation of Pretenders?
quite possibly one of the greatest songs of our time.  
 Steely_D wrote:

I'm guessing, and could be wrong, you didn't catch that he's talking about himself, strung out on drugs (junk), playing his (Fender) guitar.

That sort of subtlety makes a difference.
Get it up again. A-men.
 
I'm thinking your guess is wrong.

I can see Jackson possibly being "The Pretender", but not all those everyday people.
So sick of this song but could never honestly say anything negative about the brilliant lyrics...
 porcupinemeat wrote:


LaurieinTucson wrote:
So ironic
Today I am considering selling out
abandoning my dream
because I am making too much money
to just walk away
I don't know what to do 

 

Money pays the bills but a dream fulfills.
 
Thank You 
I did it
I walked away and am part-time working on the dream
and loving it
Masterpiece
love this
 Steely_D wrote:

I'm guessing, and could be wrong, you didn't catch that he's talking about himself, strung out on drugs (junk), playing his (Fender) guitar.

That sort of subtlety makes a difference.
Get it up again. A-men.

 
I hadn't noticed that, thanks! And for the record, I already loved these lyrics.

"Fill in the missing colours in each others paint-by-number dreams" - Awesome
 lucyvp wrote:
Okay, I'm sorry, but these lyrics. Horrible:

And the junk man pounds his FENDER.
 
I'm guessing, and could be wrong, you didn't catch that he's talking about himself, strung out on drugs (junk), playing his (Fender) guitar.

That sort of subtlety makes a difference.
Get it up again. A-men.
 lucyvp wrote:
Okay, I'm sorry, but these lyrics. Horrible:
 
Yah, that Jackson Browne; what a hack!
Unlike your amazing album . . . what was it called again?  {#Rolleyes}
Okay, I'm sorry, but these lyrics. Horrible:

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
 calypsus_1 wrote:

Jackson Browne with Crosby, Stills and Nash - "The Pretender" Live (2009)


"25th Anniversary The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert at Madison Square Garden - 2009/10/29 & 30"

"Art Is Resistance"


 
This is beautiful Thank You Calypsus  : )
Great lyrics...I can relate
 buddy wrote:

I saw the Jackson Browne tour in 1977 myself and loved it. It was a great band including David Lindley, who plays on a lot of Browne's best work.  Good memories.

 
I'm pretty sure I saw this tour as well.  Phoebe Snow was the opening act.  Great show in the gym at CWRU.

Pretty much self identified with the happy idiot.  Get up and do it again ...
 buddy wrote:

I saw the Jackson Browne tour in 1977 myself and loved it. It was a great band including David Lindley, who plays on a lot of Browne's best work.  Good memories.

 
Same.


LaurieinTucson wrote:
So ironic
Today I am considering selling out
abandoning my dream
because I am making too much money
to just walk away
I don't know what to do 

 

Money pays the bills but a dream fulfills.
So ironic
Today I am considering selling out
abandoning my dream
because I am making too much money
to just walk away
I don't know what to do 
 jbuhl wrote:
I was raised in one of the poorest places in the USA, backwoods Appalachia.  Friend and I managed an education and returned to the woods  and landed jobs in the late 70's.  We lived in a burned out trailer and spent our first pay checks on a high end stereo system.  We sipped moonshine and just wore this song out.  Man this sure does bring back memories to a simpler time for me.

  Wonderful imagery...I feel I am there with you, sharing the feelings the way you describe that scene so well.


 jbuhl wrote:
I was raised in one of the poorest places in the USA, backwoods Appalachia.  Friend and I managed an education and returned to the woods  and landed jobs in the late 70's.  We lived in a burned out trailer and spent our first pay checks on a high end stereo system.  We sipped moonshine and just wore this song out.  Man this sure does bring back memories to a simpler time for me.

 
This story reminds me of the time I was around 9 years old. On a holiday in France my dad and I decided to walk around a small lake (1 mile wide). On the other side of the lake we discovered that our pad was blocked and we had to make a detour through the woods. We ended up in an area that was used for logging in the early days of the twentieth century but was at least abandoned for 50 years now. Among the things we saw was an old burned out trailer, old household items in the woods and carvings in the trees, now 10 meters in the air, of long lost love. It was strange and melancholic at the same time. A magical moment.
I was raised in one of the poorest places in the USA, backwoods Appalachia.  Friend and I managed an education and returned to the woods  and landed jobs in the late 70's.  We lived in a burned out trailer and spent our first pay checks on a high end stereo system.  We sipped moonshine and just wore this song out.  Man this sure does bring back memories to a simpler time for me.
 Skydog wrote:
saw Jackson Browne in 1977 (i think)
i thought it was a good show
and did a good job of song selection 
but the people i went with hated it
they got super bored
i liked the show a lot 

 
I saw the Jackson Browne tour in 1977 myself and loved it. It was a great band including David Lindley, who plays on a lot of Browne's best work.  Good memories.
Great lyrics for all of us who survived that 8 to 5 world. I'm lucky, retired, counting blessings.
saw Jackson Browne in 1977 (i think)
i thought it was a good show
and did a good job of song selection 
but the people i went with hated it
they got super bored
i liked the show a lot 
Paint-by-number dreams

Indeed. 

A cautionary but hopeful message.   
One of Jackson Browne's best - before he went too commercial
just a classic
 Geecheeboy wrote:
Remarkable that a young man (in his 20's when he wrote it?) could capture the essence of the feelings of a man who has lived more than 58 years.

 
Have you ever listened to Jackie Green?
I can't believe I've heard this twice here today.
 Geecheeboy wrote:
Remarkable that a young man (in his 20's when he wrote it?) could capture the essence of the feelings of a man who has lived more than 58 years.

 
There are several other similar comments about this song posted below.  I agree with them all.  Don't know if I should feel sad that a man in his 20s was already feeling those things with so much life left in front of him, or feel glad that he was able to see it coming and either warn the rest of us, or change his life so it didn't become a self fulfilling prophecy.


I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of eye


 At my age now, these lyrics make perfect sense, simple and understated as they may be.

How Jackson Browne was in touch with those feelings in his 20's probably explains why he's a songwriter and musician.


perfect monday morning tune sitting at my desk :-)
We got burned out on this from the radio exposure it received at the time, but it really is a well-written song!  '76, a good year for tunes!

Sad note:

My friend Joe, who was the drummer in our band, died a few years ago. He asked that I sing this song at his funeral. I did not do it after talking with his daughters.....they didn't think it was right. Was my friend saying that he was a pretender?

Anyway.....every time I hear this song I think of Joe. Rock on Brother!


 calypsus_1 wrote:

Jackson Browne with Crosby, Stills and Nash - "The Pretender" Live (2009)


"25th Anniversary The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert at Madison Square Garden - 2009/10/29 & 30"

"Art Is Resistance"


 
thanks for the link - enjoyed this  {#Wave}
                  10  amen  {#Wink}
Only JB song I ever somewhat liked.
How is it that futility, capitulation, the life not worth living - how does it happen that this song reviews the sadness of a wasted brief life - and I enjoy listening to it, and it gives me a sense of hope?
It's hard to listen to this song. In a good way.  
Get it up again!
How can I NOT have rated this fantastic song? Inconceivable. Rectified.
Remarkable that a young man (in his 20's when he wrote it?) could capture the essence of the feelings of a man who has lived more than 58 years.
 old_shep wrote:
Beautiful ain't it.

 
{#Wave}.... it sure is and very worthy of a 10 in my book :)
my older sisters had this album and when this song played I'd slow down, the straight forward lyrics arrested me…still a strong piece of music
Beautiful ain't it.
As a friend once pointed out, as we worked construction in the Tucson desert, Jackson Browne's lack of contact with those happy idiot jobs left him with the notion that he could wait until the sun was up before going to work. We were out the door well before dawn. I do like the song though.
Not my favorite artist, but this gets a 9 from me, because it's just a really good song and performance. 
its me
"For What It's Worth" - is the song of the 60's

"The Pretender - is  the song of the 70's. - Listen to those lyrics.

Have A Nice Day{#Angel}
A "stone cold gem."
David Crosby's praise for many of Jackson's early works.
First play?! Must have been a licensing issue. My favorite Jackson Browne song too.
My favorite Jackson Browne song.  Thanks for playing.
Is this really the first time this is being played?
 

Jackson Browne with Crosby, Stills and Nash - "The Pretender" Live (2009)


"25th Anniversary The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert at Madison Square Garden - 2009/10/29 & 30"

"Art Is Resistance"