The awkward interview of the day: Chrissie Hynde

NPR’s David Greene is probably going to hear from a few listeners about his interview with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, still a rock hero to plenty of people.

  1. Listen NPR’s David Greene interviews Chrissie Hynde

    October 6, 2015

Greene’s job is to ask tough questions but his interview today — or at least the way it was edited for broadcast — was more about what a tough interview it was for him because Hynde was clearly tired of answering the same, old questions about her book, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, in which she claimed responsibility for what would be characterized as a sexual assault.

In the heavily-edited interview, Hynde seemed to sense where Greene wanted to focus the interview, which put him in the position of being a man asking a woman to defend herself.

It didn’t go well.

Chrissie Hynde: I’m not going to describe it, because I’ve written about it in the book. But what I can say is I never said I was raped, and I’ve never used the word, and it’s not in the book.

David Greene: I mean, I can certainly read a couple lines from the book, if that would be better.

Yeah, that might be better.

OK. I’ll just read a little bit here: “The hairy horde looked at each other. It was their lucky day. ‘How bout yous come to our place for a party.’ ” And you ended up with them, and then you proceeded to describe what they were asking you to do. ” ‘Get your bleeping clothes off, shut the bleep up, hurry up, we got bleep to do, hit her in the back of the head so it don’t leave no marks.’ ” This certainly sounds like an awful, awful experience with these men.

Uh, yeah. I suppose, if that’s how you read it, then that, yeah.

You know, I was having fun, because I was so stoned. I didn’t even care. That’s what I was talking about, I was talking about the drugs more than anything, and how f***** up we were. And how it impaired our judgment to the point where it just had gotten off the scale.

What you wrote that a lot of people have reacted to is: “Let me assure you that technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing, and I take full responsibility.”

Yeah, that just sounds like common sense to me. You know, no one dragged me into the park in the middle of the night with a gun at my head and forced me to do anything. I went off with these guys of my own volition and, you know, I shouldn’t have. I mean, I was stupid to do that, but I did it, so.

There was one comment that you made in an interview about the book, in the Sunday Times of London: “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk, who else’s fault can it be?”

So what are you getting at? Why are you asking me this?

I just think a lot of people —

I don’t understand why there’s — You know what, I don’t care what a lot of people want. You know? I’d rather say, just don’t buy the f****** book, then, if I’ve offended someone. Don’t listen to my records. Cause I’m only telling you my story, I’m not here trying to advise anyone or tell anyone what to do or tell anyone what to think, and I’m not here as a spokesperson for anyone. I’m just telling my story. So the fact that I’ve been — you know, it’s almost like a lynch mob.

The initial reviews of the interview are almost universally anti-Hynde.

“Yes, she was prickly,” one commenter countered. “But from the start of the interview I was dreading the moment where David Greene would want to talk about the damn rape. And sure enough, he had to go there. At that point my sympathy shifted. I bet she knew it was coming too and tried to divert it by saying she didn’t want to repeat what’s in the book. Glad she bit his head off. I’d like a chance to do the same.”

While it might be perceived as Hynde’s job to sell her book, that’s not Greene’s job. His job is to provide a segment on the radio that reveals the person being interviewed.

He did.

If it made people uncomfortable, that’s just too bad.

Related: The public shaming of Chrissie Hynde (The Atlantic)