Two sisters. Two voices. One Heart.
The mystery of "Magic Man". The wicked riff of "Barracuda". The sadness and beauty of "Alone". The raw energy of "Crazy On You". These songs, and so many more, are part of the fabric of American music. Heart, fronted by Ann and Nancy Wilson, has given fans everywhere classic, raw, and pure badass rock and roll for more than three decades. As the only sisters in rock who write their own music and play their own instruments, Ann and Nancy have always stood apart - certainly from their male counterparts but also from their female peers. By refusing to let themselves and their music be defined by their gender, and by never allowing their sexuality to overshadow their talent, the Wilson sisters have made their mark, and in the process paved the way for many of today's female artists.
In Kicking and Dreaming, Ann and Nancy, with the help of critically acclaimed and best-selling music biographer Charles R. Cross, recount a journey that has taken them from a gypsy-like life as the children of a globe-trotting Marine to the frozen back roads of Vancouver, where they got their start as a band, to the pinnacle of success - and sometimes excess. In these pages, readers will learn the truth about the relationship that inspired "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You", the turmoil of inter-band romances gone awry, the reality of life on the road as single women and then as mothers of small children, and the thrill of performing and in some cases partying with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and other rock legends. It has not always been an easy path. Ann struggled with and triumphed over a childhood stutter, body image, and alcoholism; Nancy suffered the pain and disappointment of fertility issues and a failed marriage but ultimately found love again and happiness as a mom. Through it all, the sisters drew from the strength of a family bond that trumps everything else, as told in this intimate, honest, and uniquely female take on the rock and roll life.
Throughout their career, Ann and Nancy have never found an answer to the question they are most frequently asked: "What is it like to be a woman in rock and roll?" Kicking and Dreaming puts that question to bed, once and for all.
©2012 Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
I truly enjoyed this listen and was so glad that Ann and Nancy provided the narration as hearing them tell their own story brought and emotional element that made you feel, rather than just tell the story.
I had hoped that the book would provide insight as to the motivation for their songs and insight into the creative process itself. Fortunately it did.
I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who finds the history of our generations greatest musicians a topic of great interest.
Lastly, listening made me want to revisit their music now with an understanding of its backdrop.
Can't wait to see Ann and Nancy and Heart in May!
No, Although the story is mildly interesting and the subjects seem personable and sweet (Nancy), narration is flat as a pancake.
No emotion...also the male narrator announcing their names each time the sisters switched narration was awkward and borderline insulting to the listener
Yes, but only because I love their music
I absolutely love listening to audio books while driving! I manage a couple a month on average and they make the daily commute a treat rather than a chore.
Insights into some of the richest musical eras from the inside of one of my favorite rock bands. it was a treat to hear the Wilson sisters in their own voices sharing their music, motivations, and reminding us of the fabulous catalog of their work and some of the challenges they faced and overcame.
I always loved Heart but this book really gave me a whole new level of respect for what it was like for Ann and Nancy coming up in the rock and roll world as women in the 1970s and 80s and the things you'd have to go through that male artists wouldn't. It certainly made me think.
Just the love they so obviously all had for each other and their descriptions of their lives with their family, especially their Mom and Dad. Just the love and respect and great sense of humour they all had with each other just shines through.
They didn't perform any characters! They were themselves and completely honest about a lot of things that they could have just glossed over if they so chose. I loved their honesty and the fact that they read in their own voices.
One of the things that makes Heart's story unique is that Ann and Nancy were two sisters in a band together. It's something you don't often hear about, especially from a female perspective. They dealt with lots of things that are probably common in the music business, but the fact that they are women and had kids for some of it made it really different. I was also fascinated by the synchroncity of the two sisters together being involved with the two Fisher brothers at one point in the story and about the things that inspired their most famous songs and how they felt about their songs being used in ways that weren't really true to the songs' meaning.
One of the best audiobook performances I've heard. The authors reading their own text significantly improved the quality of this audiobook.
The Wilson sisters detail their childhood, the formation and career of Heart, and the events of their lives through 2012. What significantly enhances the audiobook is that Ann and Nancy Wilson themselves are the readers! On top of that, several other key individuals in the book also have parts they read: Ann's first love Michael Fisher, who had the strongest vision of what Heart could be come before their first album in addition to being the subject of both Magic Man and Crazy on You; Roger Fisher, Heart's amazing lead guitarists who became involved with Nancy; and others as well. For anyone like myself who has been listening to Heart since the 70's, the book contains revelation after revelation. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
I found the book quite moving.
this had it's interesting parts, but all and all it was a bit of a struggle to get through. I can't exactly pin point what it was except that i found myself going backwards and having to re-listen to sections because I had tuned out.
I good clear assessment of who they are, where they wre, and how they got to where they wanted to go.
For me, the dicussion about their work in the mid 80's was memorable. It was the time when I started to tune them out, the book helped explain how it all happened.
I really enjoyed hearing about the various records and songs. I often paused the book to relisten to an old album or song to tie it well with the book.
Ann's complete honesty about weight, drugs and relationships along the way was quite moving. She was open and frank and honest. Very refreshing to find someone willing to be so open. As I 37 year fan I appreciate the trust she shared with me, the reader.
I loved the book and read through it quite quickly (for me). I found the way that some rather dark areas of the history were shared honestly and reflectively. When certain details came out that could hav ebeen exploited, I found their approach rather clear, frank and honest. This was no gossip rag biography.
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.
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