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The Pretender by Jackson Browne

Album: The PretenderReleased: 1976Charted:
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    David - Monticello, IA, for above 2
  • 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?"
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Comments: 11

This is just such a beautiful song, so many people noawdays don't appreciate good music...

On a side note I found this picture (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31519725@N03/5892249642/) which humorusly captures the one of the first lines in the song, "Gonna build myself a house in the shade of a freeway. I had a laugh when I saw it, namely because it caught me by surprise.
Talena - Arcata, Ca
"And the junk man pounds his fender", when I 1st heard those lyrics I was floored. No other lyrics have ever taken me back to my youth, what a memory!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Real life story told by the best. A top ten song for me. Helps me keep life inproper perspective.
Ed, Alabama
Edward - Birmingham, Al
David Crosby and Graham Nash provide backing vocals.Rick - Asheville, Nc
this is the very first I heard from Jackson Browne. I love it. I love himLiz - Smallville, Ks
The whole last verse of the song is classic. "I'm going to 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." Browne is defintely one of the great song writer/story tellers in the history of rock music.
Homzd - O-town, Nv
I always believed the dream had left him. At that point what ealse could a person do?...But become a Pretender!Jim - Poulsbo, Wa
The CD is great but I have a 1/2 speed mastered LP which is simply stunning. I regulaly cry to JB's lyrics. (It's a man thing)Bob - Manchester, England
When Jackson Browne had his VH-1 Storytellers special, The Pretender was one of the songs he played, and explained that the song is about studio musician and Little Feat band member Fred Tackett. his son, Miles Tackett is also an accomplished musician/dj as well.Cricket - Moscow, Id
"Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Pretender"

You just don't find lyrics like that anymoe...
Jay - Atlanta, Ga
What an amazing song.Carrie - Philadelphia, Pa
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