"The Pretender" by Jackson Browne tells a story of a man who has dreams of money and love. Pretenders dream of the "American Dream," money, and love, but do not possess these things. The Pretender in the song, typifies the middle-aged American. All want money and love, but few have them. "The Pretender" reveals a message of a man who had strong dreams, only to have them fade into the harsh reality of life. First, the Pretender dreams of possessing legal tender and living the American life.
He dreams of living in a good house, and living a stable life. The quotation, "I'm going to rent myself a house in the shade of the freeway I'm going to pack my lunch in the morning and go to work each day And when evening rolls around I'll go on home and lay my body down," states that the man has a desire for a normal life. He wants a steady job, and a comfortable house. The Pretender also yearns for money, as stated "I'm going to be a happy idiot And struggle for legal tender Where the ads take aim and lay their claim To the heart and soul of the spender And believe in whatever may lie In those things that money can buy Thought true love could have been a contender," and he even thought money could by love.
But in the end, the Pretender found out that money can't buy love. Second, the Pretender dreams of love, only to see his dreams fade. The quotation, "Ah the laughter of lovers As they run through the night Leaving nothing for the others But to choose off and fight And tear at the world with all their might While the ships bearing their dreams sail out of sight," perhaps describes the pretender's dreams. He dreams of love, and to have nothing disturb it, only to have his dream "sail out of sight." Third, the pretender, with all of his dreams, realizes the harsh reality of his life. The quotation, "Out into the cool of the evening Strolls the Pretender He know that all his hopes and dreams end there," describes how he realizes how, though he has hopes and dreams, he will not likely attain them. Also, he realizes the monotony of his life, caused by a lack of love, as stated in the quotation, "And when the morning light comes in I'll get up and do it again Amen Say it again Amen." Clearly, the Pretender dreams of big things such as money, possessions, and love.
Along the way, however, he loses his dreams and realizes how they only go so far. So, "Say a prayer for the Pretender Who started out so young and strong Only to surrender." Amen.