With 3 Comments, Posted under Art & Books, Music, Interviews, & Reviews
Ann & Nancy Wilson forged a path and changed the face of Rock & Roll, while Remaining relevant for four decades: They proved to be more than just, “pretty good for a couple of girls.” They’ve been kicking ass and taking names!
Kicking & Dreaming (itBooks/Harper Collins) is a must have for any fan of well crafted music. It’s a no-brainer that Heart fans will love this book. However, it also delivers great insight into what it was to be women in a male dominated, sexist, industry; as well as some fantastic behind the scenes stories from the 70s’s forward. There are lots of familiar names, and amusing stories in this tome, including recollections of time spent with: The Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Bono.
Ann and Nancy (with the aid of bestselling music biographer, Charles R. Cross) take turns narrating this honest account of their lives from childhood to present day. There is also input from family, friends, and music collaborators, such as Lynn Wilson, Sue Ennis, Roger Fisher, Michael Fisher, and Kelly Curtis (Pearl Jam). With fast pacing and thoughtful prose, Kicking & Dreaming is a fantastic read!
A large part of the duo’s success can be attributed to growing up in a tight-knit family unit. Though there were stresses in the home, with an often-absent US Marine father, and a take care of everything mother, it is clear from their memories that the Wilson’s were a family that loved and respected each other. “The Big Five,” as they affectionately referred to their collective, was a team: for better or worse. The three Wilson sisters, Lynn, Ann and Nancy were raised by John “Dotes” and Lois “Lou,” with values and an understanding of the importance of family and community. Coupling this with a huge passion for creating, it is no wonder that Ann and Nancy have had staying power all these years. Of course, a huge amount of musical talent doesn’t hurt either.
Ann and Nancy are candid about the ups and downs of a life in Rock & Roll. There is a darker side and neither shy away from the demons they dealt with. Ann talks about being bullied for a stutter and her weight, during adolescence. She was also bullied for her weight, by the press, during the last 2 decades. She is frank about her battles with both weight and alcoholism. Nancy shares her struggles with infertility, and insecurity, as well as the downfall that can be associated with being a hopeless romantic. Both ladies have triumphed over their demons, found joy in motherhood, and have come away stronger and more determined to be authentic in their music, which is what Heart has always been about.
The Wilson’s share insights into the inspirations for some of their best-known hits, who they love collaborating with, and what works/doesn’t work. Whether it was traveling back roads in a small van, to play dive bars, or taking international flights to play sold out arenas, the soul of Heart has always been about creating music that moves. Ann and Nancy continue to do this today, with the release of their 14th studio album, “Fanatic” (Legacy Recordings/ Sony Entertainment). This record harkens back to the early, more organic rock of Heart. It’s less polished and grabs you by the gut. Life, love and family are the inspiration for the new songs. Fanatic was recorded with Grammy-winning producer Ben Mink and features the duet “Walkin’ Good,” with Sarah McLachlan. The songs range in musical style and as always; the Wilson sisters thread them together in a way that feels completely natural. At 61 years old, Ann still hits the high notes! At 57 years-old, Nancy still delivers fantastic rhythm guitar and flawless vocal harmonies. Fanatic is another must have for those who enjoy fine music!
On a personal note:
I have been a fan of the Wilson Sisters since I heard my cousin’s copy of “Dreamboat Annie,” way back in 1976.
“Heading out this morning into the sun. Riding on the diamond waves, little darlin’ one. Warm wind caress her. Her lover it seems. Oh, Annie. Dreamboat Annie, my little ship of dreams…”
Though I was only 8 years old, and didn’t completely understand what the words meant, I knew it was the most beautiful harmony/melody I’d ever heard. Then came the crunching guitars of “Barracuda,” that fantastic run in “Crazy On You,” and the most mind-blowing vocals… I’ve been hooked ever since. When I hear/see the sexuality driven, auto-tuned, chart toppers that pass for hits today, I know I was blessed to be a kid in the 70’s: back when talent was the “whole package,” as apposed to packaging being the whole package… with little or no substance. So maybe this review is a little biased… but I dare you to read “Kicking & Dreaming,” and listen to “Fanatic,” and NOT BE MOVED!