Middle of the Road (song)

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"Middle of the Road"
Middle of the Road UK single cover.jpeg
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 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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