HEART's Nancy Wilson talked to Australian Musician about her upcoming debut solo album, "You And Me", which is tentatively due in April via Carry On Music.
"It kind of came to me that now that I was able to stay home and kind of encouraged my own inner child to get really creative — it's something that fans have been asking for for decades — I kind of reached back into my earlier university, college-girl self that was studying creative writing and learning mandolin and just being really creative. And I said, 'I wanna write a lot of original songs.' That was really important to me — to not just do covers, and to write original new material."
According to Nancy, "You And Me" will contain an instrumental dedicated to late VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
"[It's] called number four, like '4 Edward'," she said. "It's kind of a tradition that we have an acoustic instrumental on earlier HEART albums — like 'Silver Wheels' was the intro for 'Crazy On You'. And people love that; they love that. A lot of fans on Instagram are playing 'Silver Wheels' and learning 'Silver Wheels' and showing and telling how they play 'Silver Wheels'. And interestingly, no two people play it alike. It sounds pretty much the same.
"I guess it's kind of a novelty thing to have just an acoustic guitar by itself instead of a lot of production — layers of production."
Asked if she ever got to meet Eddie or tour with VAN HALEN, Nancy said: "Oh, yeah. We played with VAN HALEN a few times in the earlier '80s mainly — at festivals and just gigs that we were opening for them. Those brothers, they were out of control — they were always out of control. They were the ones who we would end up in some bar in a hotel with. And they were, like, 'Try this kamikaze.' They were a really bad influence on us. Then they would just get into a yelling match, they were so out of it. And then, a couple of minutes later, they'd be hugging: 'I'm sorry, man. I love you, man.' They were just really out of the realm of normal. But same on stage — [they were] just absolutely an incredible rock band, especially with what Eddie invented.
"One time Eddie said to me — and I love to tell this story — 'I love the way you play that acoustic guitar,'" she continued. "And I go, 'Well, thanks. Coming from you, that's everything. Why don't you ever play acoustic guitar?' And he said, 'Well, I don't really have an acoustic guitar.' And I was, like, 'Well, you sure do now, because I'm giving you one right now.' So then, cut to the crack of dawn the next morning, and my phone in my hotel room rings, and it's Eddie. And he goes, 'You've gotta listen to this. Listen to this. Listen, listen, listen, listen.' So I was, like, 'Okay.' I was not even awake. But he played to me over the phone this really beautiful piece of acoustic music — an instrumental — that had elements of classical and then some really rock stuff in the middle, and then another beautiful melodic flourish at the end.
"So I got to be the one who gave Eddie his first acoustic. And somewhere there's gotta be that song [that he played for me] somewhere recorded; it'll probably turn up.
"So what I did is, for him, I wanted to return the favor of something that was so unforgettable, just over a hotel phone, that he played for me. So [my song is] like about a minute and a half, and it starts out very sort of classically oriented, and it goes into a rock thing. So the shape is very similar to what I vaguely recall, what he [played] for me. And I'm really proud of it, and I'm proud of the whole thing."
Nancy is celebrated as a seminal musician in rock and roll history. Nancy and her sister Ann lead the multi-platinum rock group HEART. After 35 million albums sold worldwide, Nancy and Ann were honored with the ASCAP Founders Award (2009), ASCAP's most prestigious honor, awarded to songwriters who have made pioneering contributions to music. Nancy's status as a music icon was cemented further when HEART was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012. That same year, she and her sister received a star on the Walk Of Fame in Hollywood. In 2013, the Wilson sisters celebrated another career milestone when they performed LED ZEPPELIN's "Stairway To Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors. Their note-perfect performance was met with rousing cheers and a standing ovation in the staid concert hall, which brought the members of LED ZEPPELIN to tears.
A longtime film buff, Nancy has an encyclopedic knowledge of the language of film and has built a successful career as a film composer. An instinctive musician, she has years of experience working as part of filmmaking teams, helping to craft scenes that support the emotional tone of the film and advance the story. Nancy has been recognized with many prestigious award nominations for her film score work. A handful of her composing credits include scores for the Cameron Crowe films: "Say Anything" (1989), "Jerry Maguire" (1995), "Almost Famous" (2000), "Vanilla Sky" (2001) and "Elizabethtown" (2005).