America in Performance of 20th Century Identity and Individualism in Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless


  • James Masterson Independent scholar



Chrissie Hynde, Autobiography, Ecology, Individualism, America, The Pretenders


Chrissie Hynde relocated to London from her native Ohio in 1973. She has now spent well over twice as much time in Britain as she has in America, only moving back briefly to care for her dying parents - whose passing facilitated the releasing of her autobiography: Reckless (2015). When she moved to London she felt she had found her spiritual home, in direct contrast to Akron, her fast changing hometown. In forming this link Hynde can tell us a lot about America from a British perspective. She lived on the front line with, for example, first hand experience of the Kent State University shooting, whilst England still had no place for the Street Fighting Man: Her America is not the wild west of her hero Keith Richards, nor the ‘continuous positioning of himself vis-à-vis America’ of her ex-husband Ray Davies. Hers is the visceral and realistic picture of a failing society. Hynde is a complex character. Famously tetchy, intensely private, why did this American become such an Anglophile, living under the noses of the infamous English media? Cynical of the American Dream she chose to escape to what was the most exciting place in the world of entertainment in the 1970s. Talking of her material heritage she states ‘it was the ‘land of opportunity’ but people like mine didn’t get very many back then’. How prescient she was, as those failures come home to roost now in the politics of the US. Chrissie Hynde is arguably the epitome of the ‘British Other’, a legal alien if you will, offering a perceptive eye and commentary upon the world across the pond. Like Henry James before her, she adds an extra, informed, dynamic in her sharp analysis of America compared to anyone else.

Author Biography

James Masterson, Independent scholar

James Masterson is a freelance music journalist and Radio DJ with a Masters in Anthropology and Archaeology (Oxon). After two decades interviewing musicians and reviewing popular music he now concentrates on a more anthropological bent. He is especially interested in the analysis of the presence of ecological awareness amongst musicians and recording artists from the 1970s onwards. This work is focusing on the increasing number of autobiographies of musicians of the era. In this field he is deeply indebted to his wife Dr Muireann Leech an autobiographical scholar. He is currently researching a paper on the relevance of Protestantism on Heavy Metal music. For the purposes of this paper he is classified as an independent scholar.