Classic Rock Wiki

"Brass in Pocket" (also known as "Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)") is a single by The Pretenders. It was written by Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott, and produced by Chris Thomas.



  • 1 Release
  • 2 Chart performance
    • 2.1 Weekly charts
    • 2.2 Year-end charts
  • 3 Music video
  • 4 Covers
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


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 one in Australia during May 1980, and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The song takes its title from an expression Hynde heard from a member of Strangeways, a Yorkshire-based support band, who was looking for his money ("brass", meaning money).[citation needed]

During an interview with The Observer in 2004, Hynde 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, but they eventually persuaded me."

The lyrics describe 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.[3][4] According to Rolling Stone magazine critic Ken Tucker, the song uses "an iron fist as a metaphor for [Hynde's] sexual clout."[5] 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.[6] 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."[4] 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."[3] 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.[3] Author Dave Thompson suggests that the song is actually about the Pretenders' first live concert rather than a sexual experience. [7] In a series of Interviews in the Unity + Heritage video created to mark the restoration of Wakefield's Unity Hall, local musicians Strangeways reveal the origins of the song title. In the dressing room backstage at a gig where Chrissie Hynde was to support local heroes Strangeways, she asked 'whose strides are these?' pointing to a pair of leopardskin trousers slung over a chair. Strangeways singer Ada Wilson joked 'They're mine if there's brass in't pocket' (Brass being a local phrase for money) [8]

Chart performance[edit][]

Weekly charts[edit][]

Chart (1979–1980) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[10] 5
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[11] 6
Canada (CHUM)[12] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[13] 5
France (IFOP)[14] 4
Ireland (IRMA)[15] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 11
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 2
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[19] 1
Spain (AFE)[20] 9
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[21] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[22] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 14
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[23] 28
US Cash Box[24] 13
US Record World[25] 15

Year-end charts[edit][]

Chart (1980) Position Australia (Kent Music Report)[26] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[27] 26
Canada (RPM Top 100 Singles)[28] 42
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 52
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[30] 54
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[31] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 41
US Cash Box[33] 80

Music video[edit][]

In the accompanying music video for the single, Hynde portrays a waitress working in a greasy spoon who encounters a sleepy customer. She suddenly sees three men (her band members) approaching in a car outside. Hynde attempts to look elegant upon their entrance and flirts with one of the men (Pete Farndon) after they have been seated. Pete does not respond to her overtures. Suddenly, three seductively dressed women (the men's girlfriends) enter the greasy spoon, sit at the men's table and begin to kiss their boyfriends. Farndon's girlfriend is not impressed when he appears to respond to Chrissie's flirting. Suddenly, the couples decide to leave the café without eating. Hynde is saddened and watches them outside leaving in their car.[citation needed]

It was the seventh video played during MTV's launch on 1 August 1981.[citation needed]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2013)

The song has been covered by artists including Nazareth, Suede (for NME's charity compilation Ruby Trax),[34] Kelis (for the soundtrack to the 2005 film Just Like Heaven), Ashlee Simpson (during concert performances) and Ultra Naté.