Pretenders – Middle of the Road

Pretenders – Middle of the Road

‘Middle of the Road’ is a song by the Pretenders, released as the third single from the album Learning to Crawl. The single was released in the US in November 1983, then in the UK in February 1984. The song peaked at number 19 on the US pop singles chart and number 2 on the US mainstream rock chart in January 1984, where it stayed for four weeks.

Singer-songwriter Chrissie Hynde has stated that ‘Middle of the Road’ refers to Tao Te Ching, which she interprets as "the middle way." According to Charles M. Young of Musician, the song is about "getting out there and mixing it up with the world." The song's lyrics include observations about the difference between wealth and poverty that Hynde had observed. The lyrics also refer to autobiographical details (i.e., the lyric "I got a kid, I'm thirty-three" although Hynde had just turned 32 when the single was released). The harmonica solo near the end of the song is uncredited. Ultimate Classic Rock attributes the solo to Hynde, who usually plays it during live performances of the song. Toward the end of the song,

‘Middle of the Road’ is Chrissie Hynde's credo. She told the Austin American-Statesman: "My personal discipline has been to try to stay in the middle, always, no matter what I'm doing. If I buy a jacket and it comes in three sizes, I want a medium. You have to learn how to temper yourself and hold back till you get to the end." Hynde sings about the media hounding her. She has always tried to keep her private life to herself.

AllMusic critic Liana Jonas called ‘Middle of the Road’ a "classic example of pure, unadulterated rock music." She ascribed this to the fact that the lyrics focus on people's innate desire to "get up and go" and the "driven" music backs up the sentiment. Fellow AllMusic critic Mark Deming called it a "furious rocker." Ultimate Classic Rock critic Matt Wardlaw rated it the Pretenders 7th greatest song, saying that "The Pretenders kick out the jams in fine fashion, from that famous opening drum break to Chrissie herself wrapping things up with a killer harmonica solo."

Label – Sire
Songwriter – Chrissie Hynde
Producer – Chris Thomas


Middle of the road
Is trying to find me
I'm standing in the middle of life with my plans behind me
But I got a smile
For everyone I meet
Long as you don't try dragging my bay
Or dropping the bomb on my street
Oh, come on, baby
Get in the road
Come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah
In the middle of the road
You see the darnedest things
Like fat cats driving 'round in jeeps through the city
Wearing big diamond rings and silk suits
Past corrugated tin shacks full up with kids
And man, I don't mean a Hampstead nursery
But when you own a big chunk of the bloody Third World
The babies just come with the scenery
Now come on, baby
Get in the road
Come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah
The middle of the road
Is no private cul-de-sac
I can't get from the cab to the curb
Without some little jerk on my back
Don't harass me, can't you tell
I'm going home, I'm tired as hell
I'm not the cat I used to be
I've got a kid, I'm thirty-three, baby
Get in the road
Come on now
In the middle of the road
Back to blog