Ann Wilson Recalls The ‘Soul-Crushing’ Reason Heart Used Other People’s Songs
Heart’s Ann Wilson recently talked to Spin and remembered when the band had to use songs written by other songwriters. According to the singer, they couldn’t use their material due to a ‘soul-crushing’ reason.
Ann Wilson and her sister Nancy Wilson joined Heart in the mid-1970s. On February 14, 1976, their debut album ‘Dreamboat Annie’ was released in the U.S., and the band made a commercial breakthrough. Throughout the years, numerous successful releases followed this record, earning further recognition for the band’s musical journey.
In 1977, Heart decided to leave Mushroom Records due to an inappropriate and suggestive advertisement run by the label. Following legal battles and quarrels between Mushroom Records and Heart’s new label, Portrait Records, Heart continued to rise in prominence with their 1977 albums, ‘Little Queen’ and ‘Magazine.’
Three years later, Heart released their successful record ‘Bebe Le Strange.’ They enjoyed substantial commercial success at that time, but the follow-ups generated poor sales. The band then moved to Capitol Records and released 1985’s ‘Heart’ album, bringing them the highest success in their career.
Speaking to Spin, Ann Wilson revealed that Heart didn’t achieve this success with their songs. Instead, they had their highest commercial success with other songwriters’ songs. According to Wilson, Capitol Records told them that their 1970s sound wasn’t what people wanted, and this fact was wounding and soul-crushing for her.
In the interview, Spin asked the singer the following:
“It doesn’t matter how much success you’ve had prior, does it? When people reject your music, it feels like they’re rejecting you as a person.”
Wilson then responded:
“You have to learn how not to take that stuff personally. In the 1980s, when Heart had its hugest commercial success, it was not with our self-written songs. It was with other people’s songs in the L.A. songwriter pool: Diane Warren, Billy Steinberg, all the people who were writing the big hits in those days.
Capitol Records said, ‘You had some success in the ’70s, but your stuff isn’t what people want now.’ To not take that personally was huge. It knocked the wind out of me for a few years as a writer. That type of stuff is so wounding, so soul-crushing.”
So, although a musician wants to follow their path by making the music they want, the music industry intervenes and decides what they should play to get into the mainstream scene and achieve success. As it seems, this harsh truth left some wounds in Ann Wilson as a songwriter.