Heart’s Nancy Wilson Teaches You How to Play the Notoriously Difficult Opening to “Crazy On You”

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.

If you’re com­mit­ted to learn­ing Nan­cy Wilson’s gui­tar intro to “Crazy On You,” we rec­om­mend Shut­up & Play’s video tuto­r­i­al and tabs.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent 

John May­er Teach­es Gui­tarists How to Play the Blues in a 45-Minute Mas­ter­class

James Tay­lor Gives Gui­tar Lessons, Teach­ing You How to Play Clas­sic Songs Like “Fire and Rain,” “Coun­try Road” & “Car­oli­na in My Mind”

The MC5’s Wayne Kramer Demon­strates the Cor­rect & Offi­cial Way to Play “Kick Out the Jams” on the Gui­tar

Pete Seeger Teach­es You How to Play Gui­tar for Free in The Folksinger’s Gui­tar Guide (1955)

- 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.

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