The Pretender (album)

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The Pretender
Studio album by Jackson Browne
Released November 1976
Recorded 1976
The Sound Factory
(Hollywood, California)
Genre Rock
Length 35:07
Label Asylum
Producer Jackson Browne, Jon Landau
Jackson Browne chronology
Late for the Sky
The Pretender
Running on Empty

The Pretender is the fourth album by American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1976 (see 1976 in music). It peaked at #5 on Billboard's album chart. The singles from the album were "Here Come Those Tears Again" which reached number 23 and "The Pretender" which peaked at number 58. It was ranked number 391 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


The Pretender was released after the suicide of Browne's first wife, Phyllis Major. The album features production by Jon Landau and a mixture of styles.

The Pretender was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1978, but did not win. In 2003, the album was ranked number 391 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll says "its sense of despair is derived in part from the suicide of his first wife, Phyllis, in 1976, two and a half years after the birth of their son, Ethan". The single "Here Come Those Tears Again" was credited as co-written with Nancy Farnsworth, Phyllis Major's mother.

The title track was featured in the 1995 film Mr. Holland's Opus.

The album was certified as a Gold record in 1976 and Platinum in 1977 by the RIAA. It reached Multi-platinum in 1997 and 2006.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau (B) [3]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars [4]

In his review for AllMusic William Ruhlmann was equivocal about the album, stating Browne "took a step back from the precipice so well defined on his first three albums, but doing so didn't seem to make him feel any better... The man who had delved so deeply into life's abyss on his earlier albums was in search of escape this time around."[2]

Rolling Stone rated the album 5 of 5 stars but also wrote "...even when his songwriting is sharp, the mellowing trend in his music dulls the impact. Browne eerily predicts the rise of the yuppie on The Pretender's title track, only to have his point undercut by a creeping string section."[4] Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B grade, but explained "This is an impressive record, but a lot of the time I hate it; my grade is an average, not a judgment." and "The shallowness of his kitschy doomsaying and sentimental sexism is well-known, but I'm disappointed as well in his depth of craft."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Jackson Browne, except where noted

Side 1
  1. "The Fuse" – 5:50
  2. "Your Bright Baby Blues" – 6:05
  3. "Linda Paloma" – 4:06
  4. "Here Come Those Tears Again" (Browne, Nancy Farnsworth) – 3:37
Side 2
  1. "The Only Child" – 3:43
  2. "Daddy's Tune" – 3:35
  3. "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" – 2:37
  4. "The Pretender" – 5:53



  • Producer: Jon Landau
  • Engineers: John Haeny, Mark Howlett, Greg Ladanyi
  • Assistant engineer: Paul Black
  • Mixing: Val Garay, Greg Ladanyi
  • Mixing assistant: Dennis Kirk
  • Mastering: Bernie Grundman
  • Recorder: John Haeny
  • Arranger: David Campbell, Arthur Gerst, Jim Horn
  • String arrangements: David Campbell
  • Assistants: Paul Black, Dennis Kirk
  • Management: Mark Hammerman
  • Art direction: Gary Burden
  • Design: Gary Burden
  • Photography: Jackson Browne, Howard Burke
  • Cover photo: Tom Kelley
  • Notes editing: Jon Landau


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1976 Pop Albums 5

Singles - Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1977 "Here Come Those Tears Again" Pop Singles 23
1977 "The Pretender" Pop Singles 58


  1. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum award. Retrieved July 20, 2010
  2. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "The Pretender > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "The Pretender > Review". Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Coleman, Mark. "The Pretender > Review". Rolling Stone. 

External links[edit]