First, let me start by saying I LOVE HEART. Great records, great songs, great performances, and a wide variety of music - what's not to like? The early history of the band is a great story of finding one's way and overcoming adversity (ie. weight, the perceptions of others, etc.) to carve out a truly great body of work. There's also a very clear sense of exactly how the Wilson sisters ultimately came to holding full control of the band, edging out the founders in the process - and that's actually a compelling and rational part of the story, which doesn't leave a sense of false ownership. Really, the band's appeal was always squarely focused on the sisters (for better or worse), not the various other members. Hats off to Howard Leese, quite frankly, for sticking around as long as he did; he clearly contributed significant amounts to Heart's legacy.
As the story makes its way into the 80's, however, the tone changes from empowerment to embellishment. It is awkward to hear a pair of trail-blazers for women in music (a term they are tired of hearing, I'm sure) describe their 80's-era output of music in such calculating terms - that the outside-written songs were terrible, that their outfits were involuntarily foisted on them, that the image and direction of the band was seemingly out of their hands, etc. It would be easier to respect that period of their career if they took responsibility for the choices that characterized it - and make no mistake: these were choices within their power to direct otherwise, and they instead opted to pursue an adulterated image and made-to-order song selections to maintain their profile and popularity in an ever-changing musical landscape. Others have opted to remain absolutely true to their musical integrity, which has led to bands being dropped, independent recording, and overall downsized fame (or even flame-out) and audience base - but I'll bet the audience that stuck around for those bands were the true believers that recognized authenticity and an unwavering sense of purpose.
The Wilsons will unfortunately probably never know how many of their 80s-era fans were fans of them or of the highly processed pop music they were recording at that time. And, again - I love Heart, and I really love a lot of what was on those Capitol albums (Heart, Bad Animals, Brigade, even Desire Walks On), because a great pop song is a great pop song, and a great performance is priceless. I just wish they were proud enough of that period to take ownership for their part in it, rather than suggesting they were involuntary participants, which seems a bit like having your cake and eating it too (enjoying the popularity, but disdaining the artistic compromises that made it possible). Hell, I'm sure Pat Benatar is sick to death of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (an outside-written song, itself), but she still retains the pride of where that song took her to continue performing it in concert - a fact that I'm sure Eddie Schwartz (its writer) continues to appreciate.
Bottom line: this audiobook is a great story about a great band, then becomes a not-quite-apology for a period of their career they freely embraced at the time, to significant fame and financial gain. It seems that, if a band doesn't want to forever be defined by a song as mundane (my apologies, Mutt Lange) as "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You", they probably shouldn't have recorded it in the first place. Celebrity and adulation need to be actively pursued - no one has ever been forced to become popular at gunpoint.
I *did* listen to it again. I wanted to listen for the story between the lines stuff that gets left out per courtesy and/or legal department recommendations.
Ann and Nancy didn't want to be the Beatles' girlfriends, like their friends did - they wanted to be the Beatles; to play their own music, write their own songs, to be feminine and sexy and powerful.
K & S discusses Ann's struggles with her weight going back to pre-adolescence, and the pressure this put upon her, and the band - as if the ONLY accepted standard of beauty is thin, and the only measure of musical quality for a femme-led band is not voice, nor songwriting quality, nor musical performance, but the size and shape of the female members.
Ann talking frankly about her love/obsession for Michael Fisher. Quitting the band and taking off for Canada (whence M. Fisher had gone to escape the Vietnam draft), and living with him in a little round house over a stream, in a bed built on driftwood branches.
Nancy and her own similar but differing ideas and in the end, determination to find her own way.
* The intriguing details about the Magazine album, and finishing it under armed guard.
* I loved hearing about the "birth" of one of my favorite songs, Mistral Wind.
* The many stars who tried (and failed) to bed the Wilson sisters, either separately or together.
* Ann referring to "the song writing me," something I often feel about a story.
* The glimpses of the birth of the Seattle grunge movement, and Ann as one of its "mothers," down to sheltering its stars in her home and (platonically) in her bed.
* I cannot now remember which Heart band member wore unitards so as to show off his third nipple.
*The birth of the Lovemongers acoustic group.
* The 1995 official Heart hiatus as Nancy needed to work on babymaking.
Nancy's voice is sweet, and she has a way of inflecting sentences in the MIDdle, almost as if they are a QUEStion. Ann's voice is richer and lower in timbre, but was also somewhat raspy, and I wondered if she recorded her narration with a cold.
There are also sections read by their sister Lynn, and by others, like their co-songwriter Sue Ennis, and the band's former manager (and Ann's ex) Mike Fisher, lead guitarist (and Nancy's ex) Roger Fisher, Howard Leese, and more. It surprised me a bit that the exes would cooperate to the point of recording audio material.
When the music industry said they were finished, Heart was just getting started.
I suspect that genuine Heart fanatics who've followed every Rolling Stone and Circus and fanzine interview may feel like there's nothing genuinely new here. But for those like me, who genuinely enjoy the music, but haven't hung on every interview beyond the lyrics, there's a lot of insight here. It's also a fascinating look at the growth and changes in the music industry over the decades.
Close to the top
Just how much love they show for each other and their family.
It is like you are sitting there listening to them telling story's and you get the emotion through the way they tell everything. They were great.
A fantastic insight into the Wilson sisters rise to fame & how they survived the fame to become true artists. They paved the way for women in rock & have the scars to prove it.
This is a great behind the scenes look at one of the great rock bands. Ann and Nancy Wilson tell us a story that sounds true. Too many drugs, surprisingly little sex. Not that prudishness is rampant either.
The performance seemed dull compared to Tina Fey's and Penny Marshall's recent books. But then, Fey and Marshall are actors, the Wilson's are singers, musicians and songwriters.
I felt that this was an honest account but for most of the book you got a strong impression that it was simply overdone. There wasn't a joyous feeling through most of the book. Near the end of the book they hit a topic that really got them riled up - Sarah Palin. When the Palin camp tried to commandeer the song "Barracuda" the Wilsons fought back.
To be honest, if someone else read this book I probably would not have purchased it at all so I'm not suggesting that someone else read the book. But I bet they made a lot of mistakes when they did the first takes. I think I would put some of the mistakes into this performance.
Another thing, why not put into the performance some Heart songs - not the whole song, just a snippet here or there.
Heart is important to me so I wanted every word. I just wish I felt a little more heart from Heart.
Even though each sister or contributor, was introduced when it was their time to speak, it didn't bother me. This is a TOTAL history of Rock N Roll from the early 70's to now....what a treat! I could just imagine how each of them felt when they met their idols! They connected with everyone in the music biz and it is amazing! I love how they get personal and tell their side of their lives, whether they were together or not....great family insight to their personal and VERY personal relationships. I have never been a BIG fan, but always loved their originals, like Barracuda, and always enjoyed their music. When they did All I Want To Do, I didn't like that era...and they felt it too....if you grew up with good and great rock in the 70's until early 2000's, then this is for you. Even if you hardly know or listened to them, for these ladies to lay it out there verbally, took ALOT of balls! You won't be disappointed!
An interesting story. Anyone who listened to Heart's music growing up will enjoy this book.
How Ann Wilson was able to overcome her self image issues with her weight. The hurtful comments that were thrown at her would have devistated almost anyone else.
Both ere equally enjoyable.
No, just because of its length. However, I would still listen to sections of it for hours.
Glad the authors read this book.
For big fans, the Wilson sister continue their strong Goddess presence and keep you wanting more just as they did with their music.
I would recommend this for 'any' fan of the Wilson sisters music and art.
Both of the Wilson sisters kept me mesmerized with their voices and their stories. Just like their music I was captured by Ann's voice drawn into the tales.
I am glad it was available on audio book because I moved it to the top of my list and must listen as soon as I downloaded.