Politics

Heart’s Ann Wilson on the Beatles and gender, her new song “Greed” and covering George Harrison


Acclaimed rock vocalist Ann Wilson, who says “there’s nothing I like more than discussing the Beatles,” joined host Kenneth Womack to just do that on the season 3 finale of “Everything Fab Four,” a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who additionally writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.

Wilson and her youthful sister Nancy make up the legendary, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band Heart — the first laborious rock group fronted solely by ladies — who had been behind such hit songs as “Magic Man,” “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda.” As Ann tells Ken, their mom “always played music in the house” nevertheless it wasn’t till she was 12 and her older sister Lynn introduced residence the “Meet the Beatles” album that all the things modified. “I don’t think she realized what it would do to me,” she says. “It was all over.”

RELATED: Nancy Wilson of Heart: “We weren’t looking to marry or date the Beatles. We wanted to be them

Being struck by their “Englishness,” Ann was quickly talking with a Liverpool accent, carrying turtlenecks and smoking pretend cigarettes. As she explains, it wasn’t about being a boy or woman: “In my heart, I felt androgynous … you could be one of the Beatles without a gender role. They opened up a whole world of intelligence and imagination. They gave you another periscope to see your gender from.”

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She and Nancy went from watching the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” to seeing them dwell on the Seattle Coliseum in 1966 (“How do you come down from something like that? I don’t think you do.”), to taking part in music themselves. And in following the band’s inventive trajectory, Ann says they “always took lessons from the Beatles about things we could add to our lives.”

Calling every album from “Rubber Soul” to “Revolver” to “The White Album” filled with “songs to die for,” the Wilson sisters included what they discovered into their very own music, from Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie” in 1975 to Ann’s new solo album, “Fierce Bliss,” out now. It contains the track “Greed,” which she thinks John Lennon would have rather a lot to say about by way of its commentary on the present state of the world.

A spotlight of her profession was performing George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness” on the George Fest tribute live performance in 2014, which she says Harrison’s widow Olivia and son Dhani had been thrilled with. And with each John and George sadly being gone now, Ann says she named her new album with the thought which you could’t take something in life as a right. “Happiness or bliss … I feel it all the way down to the ground.”

Listen to all the dialog with Ann Wilson on “Everything Fab Four” and subscribe through SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle, or wherever you are listening.

Host Kenneth Womack is the writer of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin, the bestselling e book “Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles,” and most lately “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days within the Life.”


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