Brass in Pocket

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"Brass in Pocket"
Single by The Pretenders
from the album Pretenders
B-side "Swinging London" / "Nervous But Shy"
Released November 1979
Format 7" single
Recorded 1979
Genre New wave[1]
Length 3:09
Label Real, Sire (US)
Writer(s) Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott
Producer(s) Chris Thomas
Certification Gold (BPI)[2]
The Pretenders singles chronology
"Brass in Pocket"

"Brass in Pocket" (also known as "Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)") is a single by The Pretenders. It was written by Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott, and produced by Chris Thomas.


The band's third single was their first big success, scoring number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in January 1980 (making it the first new number-one single of the 1980s), number one in Australia during May 1980, and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The song takes its title from an expression Hynde heard from a member of Strangeways, a Yorkshire-based support band, who was looking for his money ("brass", meaning money).[citation needed]

During an interview with The Observer in 2004, Hynde revealed that she was initially reluctant to have the song released: "When we recorded the song I wasn't very happy with it and told my producer that he could release it over my dead body, but they eventually persuaded me."

The lyrics describe the female singer about to have her first sexual encounter with a particular person, and is expressing her confidence that the experience will be successful.[3][4] According to Rolling Stone magazine critic Ken Tucker, the song uses "an iron fist as a metaphor for [Hynde's] sexual clout."[5] The Rolling Stone Album Guide critic J. D. Considine describes the song as "sassy" and credits the band for "putting bounce in each step" of it.[6] Author Simon Reynolds similarly describes Hynde's vocal as "pure sass" and "a feline narcissism," noting particularly her "lingering languorously" over the words "I'm special."[4] According to Allmusic critic Steve Huey, the backbeat "meshes very nicely with Hynde's unshakable confidence, and the song never gets aggressive enough to break its charming spell or make her self-assurance seem implausibly idealized."[3] Huey also points out a harmonic shift in the music for the portion of the song where the singer lists the various attractive qualities she will use to make the encounter a success.[3] Author Dave Thompson suggests that the song is actually about the Pretenders' first live concert rather than a sexual experience. [7] In a series of Interviews in the Unity + Heritage video created to mark the restoration of Wakefield's Unity Hall, local musicians Strangeways reveal the origins of the song title. In the dressing room backstage at a gig where Chrissie Hynde was to support local heroes Strangeways, she asked 'whose strides are these?' pointing to a pair of leopardskin trousers slung over a chair. Strangeways singer Ada Wilson joked 'They're mine if there's brass in't pocket' (Brass being a local phrase for money) [8]

Chart performance[edit]

Music video[edit]

In the accompanying music video for the single, Hynde portrays a waitress working in a greasy spoon who encounters a sleepy customer. She suddenly sees three men (her band members) approaching in a car outside. Hynde attempts to look elegant upon their entrance and flirts with one of the men (Pete Farndon) after they have been seated. Pete does not respond to her overtures. Suddenly, three seductively dressed women (the men's girlfriends) enter the greasy spoon, sit at the men's table and begin to kiss their boyfriends. Farndon's girlfriend is not impressed when he appears to respond to Chrissie's flirting. Suddenly, the couples decide to leave the café without eating. Hynde is saddened and watches them outside leaving in their car.[citation needed]

It was the seventh video played during MTV's launch on 1 August 1981.[citation needed]


The song has been covered by artists including Nazareth, Suede (for NME's charity compilation Ruby Trax),[34] Kelis (for the soundtrack to the 2005 film Just Like Heaven), Ashlee Simpson (during concert performances) and Ultra Naté.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phares, Heather. "Various Artists – Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Women". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Certified Awards". BPI. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Brass in Pocket – Song Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (1996). The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll. Harvard University Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-6748-0273-5. 
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (17 April 1980). "Pretenders: The Pretenders". Rolling Stone. RealNetworks. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Considine, J.D. (1992). DeCurtis, Anthony DeCurtis; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Straight Arrow Publishers. pp. 232–233. ISBN 0-679-73729-4. 
  7. ^ Thompson, Dave (2011). 1000 Songs That Rock Your World. Krause. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4402-1422-6. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  10. ^ " – The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Radio 2 Top 30 : 22 maart 1980" (in Dutch). Top 30. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  12. ^ CHART NUMBER 1218 – Saturday, May 17, 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived 11 February 2006). CHUM. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0194a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  14. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "The Pretenders" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Brass In Pocket". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  17. ^ " – The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  18. ^ " – The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  19. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (P)". Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  21. ^ " – The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket". Singles Top 60. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  22. ^ "Archive Chart: 1980-01-19" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Pretenders – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  24. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 31, 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 September 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  25. ^ "Song artist 387 – The Pretenders". TsorT. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1980" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 34, No. 6, December 20, 1980". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  29. ^ "Single Top 100 1980" (PDF) (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  30. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1980" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1980". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  32. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1980". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  33. ^ The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 September 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  34. ^ Barnett, David (2003). Biog for 2003 at the Wayback Machine (archived 22 October 2003). Anglo Platinum. Retrieved 2 May 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Rock Lobster" by The B-52's
Canadian CHUM number-one single
17 May 1980 – 31 May 1980 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Coming Up" (Live at Glasgow) by Paul McCartney
Preceded by
"Totus Tuus" by Dana
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
20 January 1980 – 10 February 1980 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Coward of the County" by Kenny Rogers
Preceded by
"Sun of Jamaica" by the Goombay Dance Band
South African number-one single
21 June 1980 – 28 June 1980 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Take That Look Off Your Face" by Marti Webb
Preceded by
"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" by Pink Floyd
Swedish number-one single
4 April 1980 – 2 May 1980 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Just nu!" by Tomas Ledin
UK Singles Chart number-one single
19 January 1980 – 26 January 1980 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
The Special AKA Live! by The Specials