Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde a rockabilly rebel

Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:57pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde is unleashing her inner cowgirl on the rock band's first new album in five years.

But her label does not want "Break Up the Concrete" (Shangri-La Music; October 7) to be described as a country effort because of negative connotations. Call it rockabilly, invoke comparisons with Bo Diddley or Sun Records, and luxuriate in the pedal steel guitar. Just don't say that she has gone Nashville.

In truth, Hynde has gone Akron: Akron, Ohio, the faded rust-belt city where she was born 57 years ago, and from which she fled to her adopted hometown of London in 1973.

Since forming the Pretenders in 1978, Hynde occasionally sang about her birthplace -- most notably in the eulogy "My City Was Gone" -- but for the most part she spent her career keeping the English punk rock spirit alive.

In recent years, however, Hynde has been spending quality time with her family in Akron. She strolls the streets and meditates in the cemetery. She has also been recalling the home-grown music she eschewed as a kid in favor of exotic English sounds.

"This was something that I really felt I was being becoming pulled toward and attracted to, this more American sound which I had never explored before," Hynde said in a recent interview with Reuters.

"All the English guys love that s---, but I kinda rejected it all my life because it was my own sound. I think I probably have, as a singer, more of an inherent country voice than I would ever like to imagine I did. I think I was in denial."

MY LIFE IS MY LIFE   Continued...

<p>Rock singer Chrissie Hynde arrives at the first ever PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Europe humanitarian awards at the Stella McCartney fashion boutique in London, June 28, 2006. REUTERS/David Moir</p>