I got dumped about six months ago. Not in an easy, garden-variety sort of way, either. I received my walking papers in more of a secret-special-surprise, "Holy shit, you're breaking up with me, after almost two years, WITH AN E-MAIL?!" sort of way. It was so confusing for me that I'm still rolling it all around in my brain. With this (maybe selfishly) in mind, I couldn't help but think: Who in the whole wide world could possibly have better breakup advice than one of the legendary ladies from Heart, the recently Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–inducted, Grammy-winning, gazillion-platinum-record- selling, super-sister group that formed in 1974 and whose roots are in right here in Seattle? I briefly chatted with Ann Wilson (the dark-haired one!) on the phone (swoon!), and here's what she had to say about love (and other stuff, too!).
Is it true that in 35 years as a band, Heart have never played Bumbershoot?
That's true! I did play it once, though not as Heart—in another band, the Lovemongers. I've definitely gone to Bumbershoot just to walk around. I live here in Seattle—Nancy's in Los Angeles. I grew up here, you know, went to Cornish. Things were a lot different back then—there weren't very many women playing music around here in those days.
Do you have any favorite female voices—ones you currently listen to?
Brittany Howard. She's great, she's in a band called Alabama Shakes. And Adele, her voice is so strong.
You've always been a strong voice, and not just in your singing. What do you think of the current state of feminism?
I'm happy you even just used the word "feminism." We couldn't really say that word for a long time because it was negative and ugly—it meant you hated men. I think feminism is back and on people's mind in a positive way, for once.
I wanted to ask you some questions about love. First, how do you write a ballad—a really honest love song? Do the words come first, or the music?
The words come first. Almost always, I write lyrics for the song first.
And do the words usually come from a place of personal experience?
Oh, yes. Personal experiences of mine, and Nancy's, too.
Have any of the songs in the Heart catalog been the result of a broken heart?
Oh, almost ALL of them! "Alone" is definitely a song about heartbreak. Some might not realize it, but "Magic Man" is, too—a young girl getting her heart broken by an older man.
Which song do you look back on and smile because it came from a really positive, happy place?
"These Dreams." That song is like being high. It feels floaty, kind of like when you drift off to sleep.
I just rewatched the video on YouTube for "These Dreams." You had some pretty impressive hair in that one!
You know, I don't know why we all did that in the '80s. It was so big!
I did it, too. It was a lot of work...
A lot of hair spray! I think we all were maybe trying to achieve Robert Plant's big, flowing gypsy hair. His was natural. We had to really work for it.
Back to love—I recently had a breakup. People kept telling me to channel my sadness into making some kick-ass art.
People always say that, but it's easier said than done, isn't it? Sometimes you don't want to do anything at all.
What's your one best piece of advice for the brokenhearted?
Well, it hurts. It just really, really hurts! It sounds cliché, and people always say this, too, but you need time. The passage of time is the only thing that really works; it's the only thing that heals. And time WILL pass—you can count on it. Time will always pass.
Bad breakup? Awkward one-night stand? General romantic bewilderment? Seek guidance in Heart songs!
SONG: "Magic Man" from Dreamboat Annie, 1976
LYRICS: "Come on home, girl," mama cried on the phone/"Too soon to lose my baby yet, my girl should be at home!"
ADVICE: Ladies, don't fall for an older man, and listen to your mother.
SONG: "Cook with Fire" from Dog and Butterfly, 1978
LYRICS: Yes, she gonna burn ya/She gonna make you a fool/But it'll learn ya/Way, way better than school
ADVICE: Fine. DON'T listen to anybody, then. (But learn from your mistakes.)
SONG: "White Lightning and Wine" from Dreamboat Annie, 1976
LYRICS: Watching you chew on the bones/In the morning light, you didn't look so nice/Guess you'd better hitchhike home
ADVICE: Beware the one-night stand! And don't sleep with hitchhikers.
SONG: "Cry to Me" from Little Queen, 1977
LYRICS: You better not hide it/Let it come, let it bleed/I ain't laughing, reach in and get it, and set it free
ADVICE: It's okay to cry.
SONG: "Heartless" from Magazine, 1978
LYRICS: The doctor said, "Come back again next week, I think that you need me."/All she did was cry/She wanted to die/"Doctor, when can you see me?"/ There's a guy out there! Seems like he's everywhere/It just ain't fair!
ADVICE: And if you can't STOP crying, seek professional help.
SONG: "This Man Is Mine" from Private Audition, 1982
LYRICS: I know the women round here recognize something good/Even try to take it if they could/So I'm using every little trick I know/Making sure that he won't go
ADVICE: Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
SONG: "Break" from Bebe le Strange, 1980
LYRICS: The dust is gathering where I stand/Now I know there's a crack in this plan/After a while there just ain't no more magic, man
ADVICE: You gotta know when to walk away (and know when to run).
SONG: "Fanatic" from Fanatic, 2012
LYRICS: Now don't try to tell me love is dead/It is your body, now it is your head/ I can't stop crying, I can't stop screaming/ I can't stop talking, I can't stop dreaming/Love is pleasure, love is pain/Sweet, sweet summer and bitter rain/I gotta have it, I gotta use it/I gotta own it, never lose it
ADVICE: Love fucking sucks, but never give up trying anyway.