I was engaged in the quintessential act of postmodern life – channel surfing – late the other night when I came upon an unexpected and welcome sight: the rock band Heart performing at the Orpheum. (The “info” button on my remote control didn’t specify which Orpheum, which in a way was fitting, since part of what touring bands did during Heart’s heyday was create a national rock culture, even if the homogeneity of that culture was the source of much criticism.) The twin pillars of Heart, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, were in fine form. Ann’s voice still seemed strong, and
When Heart burst onto the national scene in the mid-1970s, the sisters were widely regarded as rock mavericks of a sort – bold women seizing ground long regarded as a male preserve – but they were never really regarded as feminist icons the way their contemporaries Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde were. That’s not really surprising. Unlike Smith or Hynde, the
In any case, Heart was a remarkably good rock band. Sinuous rhythms and a muscular guitar-based sound fused with an exceptional knack for melody that has stood the test of time. Despite growing anxieties about a weight problem, the raven-haired Ann projected a tremendous sense of authority and joy in her singing; despite evident shyness, blonde
When, in the early eighties, the band’s moment in the spotlight began to dim, the
Heart was never really at the forefront of my youthful musical obsessions; I always considered the band as the equivalent of an acquaintance I’ve long liked from a distance without knowing very well. My guess is that the group’s very skill at capturing its moment – its album covers of the eighties look like gaudy fashion caricatures of the time – will steadily fade as its core demographic gets displaced to the margins of pop culture. But I’d like to take this moment to do the Internet equivalent of flicking my bic in the blogosphere. Thanks, ladies. I’ve been grateful for times we shared in these swing decades of the millennium.