Middle of the Road (song)

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"Middle of the Road"
UK cover
Single by The Pretenders
from the album Learning to Crawl
B-side "2000 Miles"
Released November 1983
Format 7", 12"
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 4:14
Label Sire
Writer(s) Chrissie Hynde
Producer(s) Chris Thomas
The Pretenders singles chronology
"2000 Miles"
"Middle of the Road"
"Time the Avenger"
US cover

"Middle of the Road" is a single that appears on The Pretenders' album Learning to Crawl.

It is a song that has a 60s-style rhythm, and it peaked at #19 on the US pop singles chart[1] and #2 on the US mainstream rock chart in January 1984, where it stayed for four weeks.[2]

Hynde has stated that "Middle of the Road" refers to Tao Te Ching, which she interprets as "the middle way."[3] According to Charles M. Young of Musician, the song is about "getting out there and mixing it up with the world."[4] The song lyrics are semi-autobiographical,[citation needed] including observations about the difference between wealth and poverty singer-songwriter Chrissie Hynde had observed, but mostly about changes in herself: I got a kid, I'm thirty-three, baby! (In reality, Hynde turned 32 shortly before the single was released). Hynde plays the harmonica solo near the end of the song.[5]

"Middle of the Road" uses a 4/4 time signature.[5] Hynde has acknowledged that "Middle of the Road" uses the same chords as the Rolling Stones' song "Empty Heart" and that it doesn't have much melody.[4] She says that it uses basic chords and that it is like "a regular R&B song," going on to say that "it's like taking a basic format, like the blues, and just giving it new lyrics."[4] She describes Robbie McIntosh's guitar solo as "nifty."[4] Audio Magazine compared the song's structure to that of Dobie Gray's "The 'In' Crowd."[6]

Allmusic critic Liana Jonas calls "Middle of the Road" a "classic example of pure, unadulterated rock music."[5] She says that the lyrics She ascribes 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.[5] Fellow Allmusic critic Mark Deming calls it a "furious rocker."[7]

In 1989 the song was donated to a double album for Greenpeace along with other songs that had environmental or other earth-sensitive subjects titled "Greenpeace: Rainbow Warriors."


  1. ^ "Pretenders awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, J. (2008). Joel Whitburn Presents Rock Tracks 1981-2008. Hal Leonard. p. 199. ISBN 9780898201741. 
  3. ^ Guitar World (May 1, 2012). "Guitar World Presents Dear Guitar Hero: The World's Most Celebrated Guitarists Answer Their Fans' Most Burning Questions". Backbeat Books. ISBN 9781476813592. 
  4. ^ a b c d Young, C.M. (1994). "The Pretenders Change Diapers and Wrestle Death to a Draw". In Scherman, T. The Rock Musician: 15 Years of the interviews - The best of Musician Magazine. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 144–145. ISBN 9780312304614. 
  5. ^ a b c d Jonas, L. "Middle of the Road". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Audio". CBS Publications. 1984. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  7. ^ Deming, M. "Learning to Crawl". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 

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