In the lead episode of Season 3 of How I Wrote That Song, one of the most enduring voices in rock and roll looks back on her hits and the moments that inspired them. Ann Wilson’s storied career in Heart has yielded so many memorable tracks, with each of them taking the band down a different sonic path. They stand as a testament to the multifaceted songwriting skills of her and her sister Nancy Wilson, who founded the band together fifty years ago.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells Sara Parker of WMMR how one of Heart’s earliest hits, “Barracuda,” came together organically: “I didn’t have to think too much about it. Just let my emotions flow… I had a problem with somebody who had insulted me and my sister, and I was really angry. And so (the words) just went down on the page.”
That song showcased the grittier side of Heart, but there’s a gentler side to the music as well. “Dog and Butterfly,” released a couple years later, held a softer tone. “That was the thing about Heart,” Ann explains. “It could go all places. It wasn’t just a heavy, grinding rock band. It could do that, for sure, and have it be real, but also Nancy and I came out of a folk background. We came from a house with parents who listened to all kinds of stuff, Ray Charles, and opera… all kinds of music. So it wasn’t much of a stretch for us to write something like ‘Dog and Butterfly’.”
Ann also talks about the challenges and rewards that come with collaborating with other songwriters, her latest solo album, and Heart’s recent GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement recognition. Stream the interview in its entirety below.
Note: This interview was recorded in November 2022.