Heart performed a couple hits and a couple songs from its new album Fanatic as part of an acoustic YouTube Presents event yesterday at YouTube’s New York office, which was live-streamed and followed by a brief Q&A.
One of the new tunes, “Dear Old America,” was introduced by vocalist Ann Wilson as having been inspired by her and sister Nancy’s father, “a lifer in the Marine Corps.,” said Nancy, who still became an English teacher and humorist.
But being a lifer can affect a family in many different ways, said Ann.
“He got a teaching degree, but had a terrible time in his private life re-adapting,” she said, suggesting that “just because someone doesn’t act out doesn’t mean the children don’t know.”
“Dear Old America,” she explained, moved her father’s story forward some 30 years, transposing it to the experience of a soldier fighting in Afghanistan.
“It’s a problem no one’s really addressed: The scope of the problem that’s going to be when [today’s soldiers] come home,” Ann said.
She and Nancy, who sang and played acoustic lead guitar (they were joined by their band’s guitarist and bassist), also performed their breakthrough hit “Crazy On You,” on which Ann appeared, at least, to hit the high notes—though this she later denied.
“Not today, baby!” she said after being praised for her seeming prowess. “We just did pretty close to seven shows in a row, and on days off we did a whole bunch of interviews. This is what my voice sounds like on overdrive, and I can’t get exactly what I want out of every note today.”
The Wilson Sisters were particularly pleased with their Oct. 4 appearance with the likes of Sting and Stevie Wonder at Paul Simon’s benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall for his Children’s Health Fund.
“As kids, he was the one we really looked up to,” said Ann, recalling “little Nancy taking the tone arm on the record player and setting it back again and again and again to learn his guitar parts. He’s just as sweet and more wonderful than we imagined. It was beyond expectations.”
Asked if they had any hobbies, Nancy spoke of yoga as a means to “stay in your body—because music can be [an] out-of-body experience.” Regarding talent shows like American Idol, Ann said that while “competition shows serve a good purpose in bringing people together in their living rooms to root for something,” they’ve become “more about the judges” than creating careers for contestants.
“They’re fun things for people to watch on TV, but they may as well be Honey Boo Boo!” she said. “If you want a career that has meaning, you have to do the work.”
Ann responded to a comment on Heart’s influence on artists like Chris Cornell, Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson.
“That’s how rock does it: It bites its own ass, takes a little off and carries on!” she said. Asked whether she felt underappreciated, she said, “Constantly! It seems like at times we work twice as hard to [cover] the same distance–backwards in high heels.”
But the recent inductees into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon were just nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I guess there are politics involved with it,” said Ann, who also praised fellow nominees Joan Jett and Rush. “But overall it’s an amazing acknowledgement–being slapped on the back by your peers. What’s better than that?”
She and Nancy are “water carriers for each other,” she concluded. “We have a Marines-like sense of camaraderie that comes from our family.”
Added Nancy: “We also have responsibilities to be leaders as women.”
The sisters ended the Q&A by showing off their skull rings, Ann’s having been made by the same craftsman who made Keith Richards signature model.
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