Of all the bands from the seventies that bitterly disappointed me in the eighties, Heart was perhaps the worst offender, because I had loved them so much – not only loved them, but looked on them really as role models. As you know, my dear follower, I was at one time a young, female wannabe of almost the same make and model as the Wilson sisters. I wanted to sound like Ann – I played their records over and over and tried to imitate her, hairbrush in hand in front of the mirror.
And then the seventies ended, the eighties dawned, and darkness covered the face of rock. The list of bands that disappointed me by changing their sound to the over-commercialized pablum of that era is so long that it would be easier to list those that didn’t break my heart by suddenly sucking. I remember watching Heart on MTV during that period with a mixture of pity and disgust. It made me sick the way they tried to “hide” Ann and play up Nancy when Ann’s weight started going up. It was hard to watch, and the music was hard to listen to. It was such a far cry from Dreamboat Annie that it was downright sad to me. But I understood that they had to “stay current” with the hideous music trends at the time in order to be successful – I just wrote them off in my mind as a “sell out” and moved on.
Now, all these years later, things have changed. It started with their 2010 release Red Velvet Car, which harkened back to the days of their first few albums stylistically, and reached full fruition with their performance of “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center Honors for the mighty Zepp in December 2012. I’ve watched this video an embarrassingly large number of times. It’s just amazing. And note the way that Ann stands and sings proudly, unashamed, the way it should be, and doesn’t permit herself to be pushed to the side anymore. She’s now more than just a rock r0le model, she’s a role model for all who refuse to hide their talent or abilities under a bushel because they supposedly don’t measure up to societal pressures to have the “perfect body”. Way to go, Ann! I admire that greatly.
If you’re a Zepp fan, and I know you are, and if you’ve never seen this clip – you are in for a treat! It’s worth watching just for the looks on our heroes’ faces alone, not to mention this incredible version of Stairway. By the way, that’s Jason Bonham on drums, and at the beginning of the clip, you will see Plant acknowledging him with a look of sheer joy on his face. You’ll also spot a tear or two in his eyes as the performance progresses.
Here’s a clip of what might be considered Heart’s best song – one of the coolest sounding songs in rock history, in my humble opinion. It’s “Barracuda”, of course…
And I had to include this clip of “Crazy On You” – I remember watching this on Midnight Special in 1977, sitting on the bean bag chair in the family room, my eyes popping out of my head with the effort to memorize every nuance of Ann’s vocal performance.
Long live the rock legends and role models for girl rockers everywhere, Ann and Nancy Wilson.