Brass in Pocket LP
November 1, 1979
“Brass in Pocket” (also known as “Brass in Pocket (I’m Special)”) is a 1979 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 two in Australia during May 1980 (for three weeks), and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
Hynde got the idea for the song’s title when, during an after-show dinner, she overheard someone enquiring if anyone had, “Picked up dry cleaning? Any brass in pocket?” During an interview with The Observer in 2004, she 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.”
The lyric describes 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. According to Rolling Stone magazine critic Ken Tucker, the song uses “an iron fist as a metaphor for [Hynde’s] sexual clout.” 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. 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.” 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.” 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. Author Dave Thompson suggests that the song is actually about the Pretenders’ first live concert rather than a sexual experience