The Pretender (album)

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The Pretender
Jackson Browne The Pretender.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1976
StudioSunset Sound
(Hollywood, California)
ProducerJon Landau
Jackson Browne chronology
Late for the Sky
The Pretender
Running on Empty

The Pretender is the fourth album by the American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1976. It peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's album chart. The singles from the album were "Here Come Those Tears Again", which reached No. 23, and "The Pretender", which peaked at No. 58.


The Pretender was released after the suicide of Browne's first wife, Phyllis Major. The album has production by Jon Landau and a mixture of styles.

The title track was used in the 1995 film Mr. Holland's Opus.

The album was certified as a gold record in 1976 and platinum in 1977 by the RIAA. It reached multi-platinum in 1997 and 2006.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideB[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[4]

The Pretender was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1978, but did not win.

In his review for AllMusic, William Ruhlmann was equivocal about the album, stating Browne "took a step back from the precipice so well defined on his first three albums, but doing so didn't seem to make him feel any better... The man who had delved so deeply into life's abyss on his earlier albums was in search of escape this time around."[2]

In The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Marc Coleman wrote, "...even when his songwriting is sharp, the mellowing trend in his music dulls the impact. Browne eerily predicts the rise of the yuppie on The Pretender's title track, only to have his point undercut by a creeping string section."[4] Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B grade, but explained, "This is an impressive record, but a lot of the time I hate it; my grade is an average, not a judgment" and "The shallowness of his kitschy doomsaying and sentimental sexism is well-known, but I'm disappointed as well in his depth of craft."[5] In 2012, the album was ranked number 391 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[6] The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll says, "Its sense of despair is derived in part from the suicide of his first wife, Phyllis, in 1976, two and a half years after the birth of their son, Ethan." The single "Here Come Those Tears Again" was credited as co-written with Nancy Farnsworth, Phyllis Major's mother.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Browne except where noted.

Side 1

  1. "The Fuse" – 5:50
  2. "Your Bright Baby Blues" – 6:05
  3. "Linda Paloma" – 4:06
  4. "Here Come Those Tears Again" (Browne, Nancy Farnsworth) – 3:37

Side 2

  1. "The Only Child" – 3:43
  2. "Daddy's Tune" – 3:35
  3. "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" – 2:37
  4. "The Pretender" – 5:53




  • Producer – Jon Landau
  • Engineers – John Haeny (Tracks 1, 2 & 4–8); Greg Ladanyi (Track 3).
  • Additional recording – Mark Howlett
  • Assistant recording – Paul Black
  • Mixing – Greg Ladanyi (Tracks 1–6 & 8); Val Garay (Track 7).
  • Mix assistant – Dennis Kirk (Tracks 1–6 & 8)
  • Mixed at The Sound Factory (Hollywood, CA).
  • Mastered by Bernie Grundman at A&M Mastering Studios (Los Angeles, CA).
  • Management – Mark Hammerman
  • Art direction and design – Gary Burden
  • Back cover photo – Jackson Browne
  • Front cover photo – Tom Kelley
  • Other photography – Howard Burke, Peter Golden and Tony Lane.
  • Liner notes – Pablo Neruda and Kenneth Rexroth


AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1976 Pop Albums 5

SinglesBillboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1977 "Here Come Those Tears Again" Pop Singles 23
1977 "The Pretender" Pop Singles 58


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[7] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[8] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum award. Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 20, 2010
  2. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "The Pretender > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: B". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 22, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b Coleman, Mark (2004). "Jackson Browne". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Fireside Books.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Pretender > Review". Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  6. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "British album certifications – Jackson Browne – The Pretender". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The Pretender in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  8. ^ "American album certifications – Jackson Browne – The Pretender". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]