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Ann Wilson of Heart

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Ann and her song choices [Aug. 28th, 2007|07:14 pm]
Ann Wilson of Heart


Ann's thoughts on the songs she chose for her album:

Goodbye Blue Sky (Pink Floyd)

"On Pink Floyd’s The Wall, “Goodbye Blue Sky” is a pretty short track, but I always got so into the song that I wished it were longer. For this album, I wanted to extend the song and develop the nightmare scenario that it presents. Ben Mink suggested an image to keep in mind of an old patriotic World War II poster -- the kind that says “Join The Army” with a picture of a bomber on it. Nancy’s on this track and a few others on the album. She told me, “Whatever you want me to do, I’m there.” Of course, she understands this album is an Ann Wilson thing. Everyone around us was like, “Make sure no one confuses this with Heart,” but Nance and I never have any hesitation to be there for one another."

Isolation (John Lennon)

"For me this brilliant John Lennon song was always a very personal, very human response to being messed with -- to being totally kicked around. It’s about what it feels like to be on “the human trampoline,” as Paul Simon would say. Because my own response to being treated that way is always to get very isolated, this song means a lot to me. Recording “Isolation” meant even more because I cut that vocal and that track only a few days after our mother passed away. That’s actually the first take. We didn’t add much of anything. We didn’t have to."

Darkness, Darkness (The Youngbloods)

"Here’s one of two songs on the album made famous by the Youngbloods –- a band I really loved back in the day. This one was written by the group’s Jesse Colin Young. As Ben said about this song when we were working on it, “That song comes from back when darkness could be your friend.”

A War of Man (Neil Young)

"A great song from a great writer -- Neil Young -- and one of my favorites. Our version has extra added angry because it was written about the first Gulf War and here we all go again –- except much worse. The backup vocal on our track is pretty evil –- it’s kind of Stonsey, like a bunch of wolves howling. Of course, right now seems like a pretty good time to howl. Having Alison Krauss join me on the song was fantastic. I was thinking about what voice we could use to be the little girl in the lyrics to that song. I thought of Alison because her voice is so pure and angelic. When we were mixing the track, and Alison sings her part and I come crashing back in like a sledgehammer, Ben goes, “Wow, it’s like Bambi and Godzilla.”

Where to Now St. Peter (Elton John)

"I have always loved this Elton John-Bernie Taupin song. I’m a Tumbleweed Connection addict -- that’s my ultimate Elton John album. When we went to Las Vegas to record Elton for the song, he required a chart because he hadn’t really thought much about the song for thirty years. Soon Elton was hearing the song in a different way -- as a much more powerful and angry song. So he put down his piano and his vocal, and I had to go back and record my vocal because he had gone up like four clicks. Elton was so giving and so strong on this version. He got up after doing his “The Red Piano” show the night before, played tennis, took a shower and then reported to duty for me. Thank you Elton."

Bad Moon Rising (CCR)

"We did the great song John Fogerty wrote for Creedence with Gretchen Wilson. Recently Gretchen stood up with Alice In Chains at the VH1 Rock Honors and sang “Barracuda” and was awesome, really awesome. Gretchen wants so much to be a rock singer and I think she’s shown that she can do it all. The song itself is on the fence between rock and country –- its very swamp rock like Creedence could do sometimes. I thought Gretchen brought a lot to the track. She’s very pure and it was great of her to find the time for us."

Get Together (The Youngbloods)

"We realized that doing this Youngbloods smash -- written by Dino Valenti -- could be inviting scrutiny because it’s sort of the ultimate hippie anthem with its whole peace and love type message. So it could have been a real Spinal Tap moment, but then we decided we love the song so let’s just take a moment and figure out how we can do it for now. And when Nancy started singing on it, it just became this beautiful new thing and we thought that yeah, this works. Why not? It’s still a very beautiful musical statement, and there ought to be room for that even now."

Jackson (Lucinda Williams)

"Some people heard the title and figured that I was doing the June Carter-Johnny Cash duet. It will be a fine surprise when they realize this is actually a great Lucinda Williams song from her Car Wheels On A Gravel Road album. I’m such a fan of Lucinda’s and everything she does. I just think she’s one of the finest writers of this particular time. I especially love how deceptively simple her lyrics are and how blue she can get. Damn, the woman just can get so far down and it’s so beautiful the way she takes us with her."

We Gotta Get Out of This Place (The Animals)

"I was looking for a song that would relate to the whole idea of just busting out of this negative cycle we’re in these days. It’s my way of saying, “Let’s just get out of this damned repeating cycle.” When I thought about doing a song in those terms, “We Got To Get Out Of This Place” came to mind. In that context, the line “My little girl you’re so young and pretty” was to me a mother speaking to her daughter. Maybe they’re both stuck in some backwater place and the mother is old before her years and the daughter is on her way. Of course, she’s a single mother – the stereotype . . . just like me. Wynonna and I –- our paths have crossed a few times and we just hit it off. We’re two of a kind. I thought of her and Naomi and their history and figured it would be so cool to do this song with her, especially if she starts it out because she has that whole deep Elvis Presley, May West-y thing going on in her voice."

Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan)

"We were thinking about that one and it’s daunting because it’s like six and a half minutes of verse after verse. Ben was like, “Why don’t you take a shot at editing the lyrics.” Like go ahead, Ann Wilson, you try and edit Bob Dylan. I tried three times but it was ridiculous. So we went back to the drawing board to try another way. Ben did an amazing job on the arrangement, and obviously Rufus Wainwright and Shawn Colvin brought their own hearts and soul to it. We had done ‘Decades Live’ with Rufus and I’m a fan and we hit it off. He’s a great talent. And I’ve known Shawn as a fan for years now and our paths would cross and we got to know each others as mothers really first. I thought how cool it would be to have those three very distinct voices on that brilliant Dylan song."

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