H is for Heart

button_heartThe roots of the band Heart actually go back over forty years. While there have been a number of members of the group over the years, including, briefly, brothers Roger and Mike Fisher, it’s been sisters Ann Wilson on vocals, and guitarist Nancy Wilson, who have been at the heart of the group since 1974. Their careers have had lots of ups and downs, but they survive. They were, rightly, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

One of my colleagues loves Red Velvet Car, their 2010 album, which was the group’s first Top 10 album in 20 years. I probably should check out that collection because it’s supposed to be “a return to the melodic hard rock and folk sound of early Heart albums.” And I loved early Heart.

The Dreamboat Annie album from 1976 featured Crazy on You [LISTEN]; given the airplay it got, I’m surprised it only made it to #35. Magic Man [LISTEN] was the bigger hit, going to #9.

The origin of their next hit was interesting, to say the least. From the Wikipedia:

Mushroom [Records, their label] ran a full-page advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine showing the bare-shouldered Wilson sisters (as on the “Dreamboat Annie” album cover) with the suggestive caption, “It was only our first time!”. When a reporter suggested, backstage after a live appearance, that the sisters were sex partners, the infuriated Ann returned to her hotel room and began writing the lyrics to “Barracuda”.

Amid dueling record label fussing – they quit Mushroom and moved to CBS/Portrait – Barracuda [LISTEN] got to #11, almost certainly my favorite Heart song.

They suffered some commercial decline in the early 1980s, but returned to commercial form in 1985 with the eponymous Heart album [LISTEN to all], featuring the #1 hit These Dreams (1986), plus What About Love (#10 in 1985), Never (#4 in 1986), and Nothin’ At All (#10 in 1986). But this wasn’t the Heart I really loved – I barely remember Nothin’ at All.

Last time I noticed Heart was when I watched the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, and Ann and Nancy Wilson were asked to perform at the event in tribute to Led Zeppelin. The Wilson sisters, along with Jason Bonham (son of the late LZ drummer John Bonham) performed Stairway to Heaven [LISTEN!], which brought tears to Robert Plant’s eyes.
Seriously, it took me a little while to figure out there could be TWO women in music named Nancy Wilson. The one I knew first was a black songstress whose albums were hawked on the inner sleeves of my Beatles and Beach Boys albums.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

24 thoughts on “H is for Heart”

  1. When I was a kid, they were going through their commercial 80s hitmaking phase, and I was very surprised in high school to go back and hear their Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen albums, two of my favorites of anyone’s albums. I don’t like the stuff I grew up hearing as much–I particularly hate “All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You”–but I do love their 1987 hit “Alone.”


  2. The name sounded familiar but I remember none of the songs you linked. Guess they must have passed me by. Their Stairways to Heaven tribute is superb.


  3. I have long suspected that “Little Queen,” the song, was intended as a veiled insult to Shelly Siegel of Mushroom Records; the tossed-aside “magazine” in the outro might refer to the album they ended up owing Mushroom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s