You can slide up, pull off and hammer like a beast, but be forewarned. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep pace with Heart’s Nancy Wilson, as she demonstrates how to play the introduction to 1975’s “Crazy On You,” one of the greatest — and trickiest — opening guitar solos in rock history.
“I really wanted people to know right up front what I could do,” Wilson revealed in a 1999 interview with Acoustic Guitar:
It was the same thing as sitting in the Bandwagon music store and playing (Paul Simon’s) Anji. It was like, “Check me out, I know some stuff.”
As hard rocking female musicians in the 70s and 80s, Wilson and her bandmate/sister, lead vocalist- and songwriter, Ann found themselves having to prove themselves constantly.
As Ann recently explained to The Guardian:
Back then, especially in the 70s, there was no filter on how women were sexualized – hyper-sexualized – in order to sell their images. Now at least it looks like women have control over their own filters. Back then, they didn’t. It was just like: “Hey, here’s a sexy chick. We know how we can sell her.”
Let’s all observe Women’s History Month by insisting that every bonehead who ever dismissed these pioneering women as a ‘chick band’ pay close attention to Nancy’s intricate “hybrid picking”.
“Crazy On You” finds her picking a rhythm on the A‑string while using her bare fingers to pull off notes on the B and G strings.
And by her own admission, she tends never to play it the same way twice (“which makes it real easy, right?”)
While we’re at it, how about we celebrate Heart’s 50th anniversary by introducing the next generation to “Crazy On You”?
The times have changed in significant ways, but the emotions that inspired the song will strike close to home for many young people, as per Ann’s description on the Professor of Rock’s YouTube channel:
I wrote the words about the state of the world, and the stress effect it was having on me. Back then, we thought the world was really messed up, right? Because the Vietnam War was going on and we were choosing to, but staying out of our own country…we were homesick. Crime was rising, gas was expensive, gas shortage, all this horrible stuff. We had no idea what was going to happen in later years so it seemed to be, at that time, y’know, this is the end of the world. This close to the apocalypse. It’s very very stressful when you’re in your 20’s and you don’t see a good future.
via Laughing Squid
- Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto. Follow her @AyunHalliday.