The song “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne has long been one of my all-time favorites. I love the music and the lyrics, but I also love the sentiment behind it.
When we’re young, we look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Possibilities are endless; we can be anything, do anything. As we grow older and wiser, the rose tint fades, and we start to rid ourselves of “delusions of grandeur.”
I am in love with the song’s main character, who has rid himself of the trappings of glamorous expectations. He’s content with a simple life in a “house in the shade of the freeway” and a day-to-day job. He’s found refuge in being a “happy idiot” and “struggling for the legal tender”.
It’s not that he’s given up, or settled – he’s just decided that being “happy” is more important than the dream of “one day” being happy. He’s not asking for much, he doesn’t need it.
What I think is most beautiful about the sentiment behind this song is its strength. It’s anything but a cop-out. It’s about Reconciliation. It’s about Gratefulness. I suppose it could be interpreted as having a sad undertone. Maybe, but so what?
The only thing better than being “young and strong” must be wise and strong.