Put us back on the train 

They all knew one another as students at Kent State University and were decidedly affected by the events of that sad, sad day in 1970.  But while Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale  took a snarky, industrial route to form Devo (Casale was standing mere yards away from two friends when they were killed), Chrissie Hynde saved her shekels and moved to England.

Born in Akron in 1951, Hynde, who had studied art in college tried writing for a while but eventually found herself working in Malcolm McLaren’s London clothing store.  It was there that she met teenaged Sid Vicious and tried to convince him to marry her so that she could claim permanent residency.

No luck with that and after time spent in Paris and Cleveland (such a juxtaposition) Hynde managed to make her way back to London where she played for early versions of The Clash and The Damned before finally forming a group of her own in 1978.  Of course the group needed a name, especially after a series of song demos began to be passed around, and in honor of The Platters’ “The Great Pretender” Hynde dubbed it, “Pretenders.”

First released as a single in 1982, when it reached Number 17 on the UK charts and Number 5 on the American Billboard Charts, this song was originally meant to be about Hynde’s ex, Ray Davies of the Kinks, with whom she had a daughter.  But before it could be recorded the focus changed after the group’s guitarist (James Honeyman-Scott) died of a drug overdose.

Purposely reflecting Sam Cooke’s 1960 hit “Chain Gang” with its memorable chain-gang chant, “Back on the Chain Gang” would eventually find its way onto the reorganized group’s third album, “Learning to Crawl” in 1984.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Friday 8 March

Back on the Chain Gang

 I found a picture of you,

Oh oh oh oh

What hijacked my world that night?

To a place in the past

We’ve been cast out of?

Oh oh oh oh

Now we’re back in the fight

We’re back on the train

Oh, back on the chain gang

 A circumstance beyond our control,

Oh oh oh oh

The phone, the TV and the news of the world

Got in the house like a pigeon from hell,

Oh oh oh oh

Threw sand in our eyes and descended like flies

Put us back on the train

Oh, back on the chain gang

 The powers that be

That force us to live like we do

Bring me to my knees

When I see what they’ve done to you

But I’ll die as I stand here today

Knowing that deep in my heart

They’ll fall to ruin one day

For making us part

 I found a picture of you,

Oh oh oh oh

Those were the happiest days of my life

Like a break in the battle was your part,

Oh oh oh oh 
in the wretched life of a lonely heart

Now we’re back on the train

Oh, back on the chain gang

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