Like Brigitte Bardot!


This is from A General Theory of Love (2000) by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon (M.D.s all). They are talking about how memory stores and shapes love, guiding our romantic choices in mystifying ways:

A scientific theory of memory is therefore a map of the soul. Every such diagram must attempt to delineate the mind’s Dark Continent: why do people possess emotional knowledge that leaves no conscious trace?

Since time’s beginning, romantic partners have searched for each other with exquisite but obscure deliberation. “In literature, as in love,” wrote André Maurois, “we are astonished at what is chosen by others.” And they are every bit as amazed at us. The very concept of “compatibility” discloses that no all-purpose template for loving predominates. Sexual attractiveness contributes only a minor filter to this selectivity. The number of couples who marry is only a miniscule fraction of the many who fiind each other physically interesting. Not just anyone will do; in fact, to any one person looking for a mate, almost nobody will.

A lover tests the combination of himself plus serial others like a child juxtaposing jigsaw pieces until a pair snaps home. Love’s puzzle work is done in the dark: prospective partners hunt blindly; they cannot describe the person they seek. Most do not even realize, as they grope for the geographical outline of a potential piece, that their own heart is a similar marvel of specificity.

So, what makes your little heart go pitter-pat? Me, I’ve always been a voice man.

Which brings us to the forever incomparable Chrissie Hynde, standing steadfast and unblinking in the midst of this blazing conflagration from the Pretenders’ shamefully underrated second album. This particular song, incidentally, also makes a good answer to the question (should it ever come up), “Was James Honeyman-Scott really that good?” (The sheet music might even read: “Duet for girl and electric guitar.”)

The English Roses (Chrissie Hynde)

The Pretenders

Just before it rains
And the wind whips ’round the balcony
And the sky closes
On the English roses

And she’ll be pacing
‘Round and ’round and ’round and ’round her room
But these storms always find her
To remind her

To the endless sky
Of pink over grey
She looks for an answer
But it’s too late

Maybe it’s true
Some things were just never meant to be
Maybe not

This is a story
Of fruit cut from the vine
Forgotten, left to rot
Long before its time

This is a story
About the girl who lived next door
Looking for someone to hold

A wish made on a star
Brought her here tonight
In the courtyard she waits
A thousand broken dates

But she holds the hymnal
Where so carefully pressed
Is the English rose
She laid to rest

It’s only a story
Flowers in full bloom
Bouquets in every room

This is a story
Of fruit cut from the vine
Looking for someone to hold

6 Replies to “Like Brigitte Bardot!”

  1. “Shamefully underrated”

    You got that right! JHS is my greatest guitar hero…and those first two Pretenders records are sheer genius. Chrissie drew me in with THAT VOICE instantly (and still does), but I also fell in love with JHS’s guitar playing, and he remains my biggest guitar inspiration to this day.

    Thanks for that post.


  2. Um…underrated by whom?

    If there ever were an argument for OKC (Other Karen Carpenter) the Pretenders II was it. I weep every time I hear “Birds Of Paradise” – and of course “Talk OF The Town” was one of the most diamond-sparkle pristine follow-up singles of all time. Glorious! It almost allows one to underestimate the charms of “Message of Love”, but of course to do so would be criminal. And “I Go To Sleep” – has a cover version ever been so perfectly inevitable? It ALMOST eclipses the Cher version – which is no small feat! And – the cover photo was so cute, it made me want to fuck the drummer (which, if you see live footage, is purely an artistic accomplishment on the part of the photographer, and not necessarily an actual testament to the drummers true physical charms!). So – Pretenders II, and art – and sex – and Karen Carpenter – prevails!

  3. Dina, amen! Thank you so much for weighing in. THAT VOICE. What else need be said? Next time I’m in California I’d definitely love to try and check out your band. You sound great — though how the fuck did you ever figure out the lyrics of “The Wait”?? I’ve had my head against the speakers for almost 30 years and I still have no idea what she’s saying (even if I know exactly what she means).

    And Kristian, a big fat “amen” to you too. I actually almost posted “Birds of Paradise” here instead of “English Roses.” But it was more than I could handle at the moment. The way the dreamy bottom of her vocals falls away, replaced by the almost unbearable urgency of the plea at the end:

    Please don’t forget
    Do forgive me
    I still have something
    You did give me

  4. Maybe Dina took the same approach Linda Ronstadt took when she covered “Tumbling Dice”: when she was unable to discern the real lyrics, she just made up lyrics of her own. (Discerning lyrics can be tough: there is at least one song on this very site where you were unable to make out some lyrics, even though you were the guy who wrote and sang the song.)

    But speaking of Brigitte Bardot, Philip— you like Brigitte Bardot have been silent for a long time but you still seem to be out there somewhere. Tell us, please, (in general terms if need be): what have you been up to? When if ever will you be posting new blog entries?

  5. JHS- A guitar god but still generally overlooked and underrated, I think. Sometimes I think that he’s almost forgotten by all but a few diehard fans! I loved his work on the EP (Cuban Slide is a fav), and Kid is certainly a classic. I hear his jangly sound on Back on the Chain Gang, which he worked on during sound checks. I can’t argue with Chrissie’s voice and attitude, but JHS’ work sets her songs apart and holds up 30 years later.

    And he was cute too:)

  6. I tried to post earlier, but somehow I didn’t get through…

    I was thrilled to see this blog, because I was always a big JHS fan. I loved his music back in the day, and I still love it now, even though it’s been a good thirty years since JHS played. I agree 100% that JHS is a Guitar Hero, although he’s been a bit underrated and maybe even forgotten by the mainstream music magazines. I still isten to Cuban Slide and Kid with as much enjoyment as I did years ago. And yes, Birds of Paradise is an unfortgettable song, along with Talk of the Town. I’d love to see JHS placed in a top guitarist list somewhere, but it never seems to happen, sadly. Gl;ad to see him get his due in your blog!

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