Not Cease from Exploration...a blog by Steve Albert

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Learning to Crawl


It was 1984, and I was in my second year of college when The Pretenders album (back then they really were record albums) Learning to Crawl came out.  To this day it's one of my favorite collective pieces of modern popular music.  Like most great musical works (including Fleetwood Mac's Rumors or The Beatles' White Album), its creation was steeped in angst.  In the case of Chrissie Hynde the angst was driven by the deaths of two band members, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon.

What's so great about Learning to Crawl?  Well first you have to start with the title.  "Learning to Crawl", what does that mean?  Well when I think about it, it conjures up a state where you are so low that you can't even crawl.  In my limited life to date, just when I think I've reached a state where I think I'd need to "learn to crawl", something else would happen and I'd end up seeing that the past trials were just minor league stuff.  Now I'm not complaining, as the trials I've had in life probably pale in comparison to those of others, but I will not claim a life of sunshine, smiles & rainbows either.  "Learning to Crawl" is a state of mind you reach when you are truly low.

Then there is the music.  I've read where it's not uncommon for Ms Hynde to actually cry when she plays the first track on the album, Back on the Chain Gang.  That song happens to be one of my favorite pieces of music, ever.  The raw emotion of the song just seems to penetrate me.  I could go through the songs one by one, but why bother?  I just think it's an outstanding collection of music, that is also exceptionally well played (check out the guitar work on Thumbelina for example).  Pay attention to the drum work on the album too, as Martin Chambers was one of the best drummers of the era (make that "is" as he still plays).

This seems to be a pretty appropriate way to end this post...

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