Classic rock artists: Nancy Wilson and Heart


A Review of Heart by Beth Heinecamp

I’d like to thank Robin for inviting me to be a contributor.  We met on
Facebook and both share a love of diverse music, as well as the need to
share this love via YouTube videos! I’m only an amateur musician, having
played guitar for many years, and presently learning classical and jazz
piano.  It’s a heck of a lot of fun.

I’m also a history buff, in fact ,I have a BA in History from the
UThe niversity of Wisconsin.  I love sleuthing around on the internet and at
the library.  So, I thought I’d combine these two interests here.   I
consider myself a decent writer but the ability to convey in words how
the magic of music works for me, has always been elusive.  I truly
become tongue-tied.  Perhaps my bumper sticker says it best – ‘When
Words Fail, Music Speaks’!

I *can* say that music has definitely kept me afloat during some
really rough times in my life.  One awful period was right after my
parents divorced in 1972.  I was very close to my dad, he was my
lifeline.  My mother, well, she was a troubled person.  We had a
non-relationship relationship, if that makes sense.  Shortly after the
divorce dad moved to Florida to become minister of a new church.
Besides losing dad, treasured friendships, my beloved dog, our big old
house, living near woods to play in, were erased from my life.  Mom
moved us to Milwaukee in ’73 where she had family.  But I felt like a
refugee in a foreign country, utterly alone with no way of ever
returning home.

What helped me survive was playing my guitar. It had been a
Christmas present from my Dad in ’72.  I bought ‘Alfred’s Basic Guitar
Method Level I’ and dug in, teaching myself the basics and then moving
onto chords and then songs.  I was particularly inspired by Seals and
Croft, The Moody Blues, Yes, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire.

In the summer of 1976, I heard ‘Crazy On You’ by the band ‘Heart’ on
the radio which caught my attention immediately.  For a pop song, it was
unusual.  It started with an interesting piece of acoustic guitar work,
then transitioned into a heavy rock sound.  The lead vocalist was
female, also unusual for heavier sounding bands.  I’ve always thought if
an electric guitar could sing, it would be what she sounded like!  Her
name was Ann Wilson.

Ann had joined the fledgling rock group ‘Heart’ in the early 1970’s.
Later, she invited her younger sister, Nancy, to join.  Nancy taught
herself guitar at an early age, so that by her late teens she’d become
very skilled at it, so much so that she was good enough to play ‘with
the guys’.

Eventually, Heart became huge, absolutely huge.  ‘Magic Man’ and
‘Barracuda’ were major hits in the 70’s but it was the 80’s that put
them in the stratosphere with hits like ‘Never’, ‘Alone’ ‘Who Will You
Run to’.  All in all, they had two Number #1 hits, nine Top 10 hits, and
29 songs in the Top 40.  Eventually, they’d sell over 35,000,000 million
record albums world-wide.  Their videos on YouTube are very popular –
‘Crazy on You’ has nearly 9 million views!

Heart in 2010

I had always thought that intro was played by the other (male)
guitarist. I learned recently that I was wrong–it was actually Nancy
who played it!  She composed a good portion of the song as well. When I
learned this, I had one of those ‘It figures!’ moments.  Not to sound
whiny but at that time in popular music, the guys just didn’t take
female guitarists seriously. In fact, I’ve read many stories where they
were downright hostile.  According to Nancy, a certain famous guitarist
called them ‘Tits Zeppelin’. In addition, their record label’s marketing
department chose to focus on the Wilsons’ physical attractiveness. If
you check out the cover of the album ‘Dreamboat Annie’, you’ll see what
I mean.  Both sisters are bare-shouldered and looking off into the
distance in a typically vacant manner. I call it ‘fluffyifying’.

Despite that, their music rocked, and I wasn’t the only one to think
so. And now whenever I hear ‘Crazy on You’, I smile in appreciation for
Nancy’s deft fingers, and for the magic they made, transcending time and flinging me back to 1976.