Wikipedia: “Heart is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Seattle, Washington, as The Army. Two years later they changed their name to Hocus Pocus. The year following they changed their name to White Heart, and eventually changed the name a final time to Heart, in 1973.”
Heart rose to fame with music influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, as well as folk music. (And as we all know they are a kick-ass Zep cover band.) The band is led by two sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson. Ann is the singer and she has one of the best voices in rock, male or female. Nancy is a terrific singer as well, mostly singing backup and also playing some really nice guitar. Someday I’ll learn how to play her acoustic intro to “Crazy On You.”
First up, from 1978’s Dog and Butterfly is a funky, mid-tempo rocker called ‘Straight On.’ I should mention here that there were two other guitarists in the band, Howard Leese and Roger Fisher. Both are listed as being on electric guitar on this track.
No Heart post is possible without either “Magic Man” or “Barracuda” or both. The song is about Heart’s anger towards Mushroom Records, who as a publicity stunt released a made-up story of an incestuous affair involving Ann and her sister. (!)
“The song particularly focuses on Ann’s rage towards a male radio promoter who came up to her after a concert asking how her “lover” was. She initially thought he was talking about her boyfriend, band manager Michael Fisher. After he revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy, Ann became outraged, went back to her hotel room, and wrote the original lyrics of the song.”
My Heart anecdote – years ago when the band was hot my wife and I wanted to go see them at a venue in Boston. At the time I was driving a big whale of a car, some ridiculous thing like an Oldsmobile. For reasons I can’t recall, I drove right up to the box office, double-parked and ran in to get tickets. I think maybe either the box office wasn’t open or they didn’t have tickets or something so I didn’t get any. When I came out, the whale wouldn’t start. I spent the day getting it towed and trying to figure that one out. Never did see them.
I’ve always liked “These Dreams,” one of the few tuns with lead vocals by Nancy Wilson. It was co-written by Bernie Taupin and offered to Stevie Nicks who, for some reason, turned it down. (It’s ten times the song “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” is, Stevie.)
I mentioned “Crazy On You,” earlier. The acoustic intro is by Nancy and she says it was inspired by the Moody Blues’ song “Question.” Which is odd because they sound nothing alike. In looking at the some of Heart’s songs, it’s funny how many they have that seem to be about unrequited love or maybe just lust for a guy. “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You,” “What About Love,” “I Want You So Bad.” Maybe I’m just used to guys lusting for women in song. Another door broken down by the sisters.
Doesn’t a band named Heart deserve a song called “Heartless?”
For a couple of tough hard rockers, the sisters Wilson are very soft-spoken. I saw them once on an interview and they were quiet, almost shy, self-effacing. But it all comes out in their music.
Of the song “Even It Up,” Ann says, “That song was written in about ’79 or ’80, and it was definitely a response to being obstructed as women in the rock field. There are so many systemic things that get thrown up in front of you, different glass walls and stuff. We were speaking out against it then.” And aren’t we better off for it? Tower of Power here on horns.
Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, including approximately 22.5 million albums in the United States. They have placed top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990, and 2010s. Heart was ranked number 57 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and ranked number 49 on Ultimate Classic Rock’s Top 100 Classic Rock Artists
In 2013, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by fellow Seattle musician, Chris Cornell.
Bonus – if I don’t put their great version of “Stairway to Heaven” that brought Robert Plant to tears somewhere on here, invariably somebody will ask why I left it off. It’s on the Spotify list. And here
10 thoughts on “A Six-Pack of Heart”
Good piece. I like Heart and have from the beginning. The Stairway To Heaven is about as good as it gets.
Me too, man. I literally just re-watched the video. If you haven’t watched it in a while, do yourself a favor. It’s fantastic. There are a million Zep tribute bands. Only Heart could make Plant cry.
Yep, besides Zepplin it is the best arrangement ever put together. Even Paige was digging on the guys guitar solo.
Right. I wish it had been louder. And then that whole chorus pops up from behind the screen. I was so moved I wish the lyrics actually made any sense.
Nice picks, Jim. I didn’t know Heart’s origins go back to the ’60s – wow! I always thought they started sometime in the ’70s.
Nancy Wilson is a great guitarist. That acoustic intro to “Crazy On You” is pretty cool. I also recall seeing these two dynamite ladies perform some of their songs unplugged. Check out this one!
Last but not least, if you can get the gents of mighty Zep to well up, I suppose you know you’re doing something right!
Boy, that is great. Who needs a band when you have these two talented ladies? I guarantee you Nancy’s wrist was worn out at the end of that. That was a workout and she had to carry the entire rhythm. I never would have guessed that was the Tonight Show.
BTW, this was the most recent camp at the one I went to. I’m on an alumni Facebook page but didn’t hear much about this one.
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Heart don’t seem to get much radio airplay on classic hits radio here, so I was interested to listen to your playlist. I only really knew ‘These Dreams’. I don’t know if they’re totally my thing, but I enjoyed being educated about them. I was a little prejudiced against them because the main Heart song I know if their cover of ‘Battle of Evermore’ – I don’t really like that song, either with the Wilsons singing or Plant and Denny.
Evermore, I suppose, can merit them an A for effort. You can also paint a bright line from there to Allison Krause. I’d be curious as to your take on their Stairway to Heaven.
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That Stairway to Heaven is pretty good actually.
Yeah, if you watched the video, it definitely got to the guys.
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