In 1989 we began to work on Brigade, our third album for Capitol. We switched producers, but the overall concept was the same. The label thought we needed to rock harder, so in addition to the Diane Warren song "I Didn't Want to Need You," they insisted we do a song Mutt Lange had written called "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You." It was originally intended for Don Henley, but he passed. The demo was country.
Ann positively hated it. "What does that even mean?" she said during our first run through. She did sing it, and we begrudgingly turned it into a Heart song. It ended up being one of our most controversial songs, even getting banned in Ireland and a few other countries. The label was right about it being a hit, though: It went to number two on the Billboard charts and helped made Brigade our third multi-platinum album in a row.
But the glory of chart success increasingly came with a price. We did "All I Wanna Do" on the Brigade tour, but retired it after that. When years later, I brought it out again as a tour idea, Ann said she'd try it in rehearsal. She got as far as the first verse, but after the line about "lonely boy in the rain," Ann stopped singing and flagged down the band. "Ah, for fucks sake," she said. "I can't do this. I'm grossed out by this song." It was the first time in our entire lives I saw her stop any song once she had started it. Ann has to "be" the song to sing it, but by Brigade, we were struggling to figure out how to be ourselves in a multi-platinum world that we didn't make. Still, Ann always possesses a perfect instinct for what's authentic to our band. There have been many times I was truly grateful when she steered us away from artistically compromised situations.
Our favorite part of Brigade was the outfits we wore on the album cover. We called them our Cadillacs because they cost almost as much as a new car. We had them made to our specifications, and to look a bit like Sgt. Pepper's. But they were also an homage to our dad, who was the one Wilson who had truly been in a brigade.
Another hit album meant another giant tour. We started that tour in Germany, but before rehearsals we were already burned out. We were in the town of Bremen, and our first morning we were woken at the crack of dawn by screaming. We couldn't figure out where it was coming from, but when it happened again the next day, we discovered it was the horse-drawn "Gherkin Pickle" wagon. It went through the streets every dawn loaded with beer-swilling tourists. Our party days were winding down, and the last thing we needed was that kind of local color. We were exhausted, and that was before the tour had even begun.
As kids, Mama had repeatedly told us never to curse. But each morning in Bremen, both Ann and I could be heard to take the Lord's name in vain repeatedly whenever the goddamn-mother-fucking Gherkin Pickle wagon came by, with its incessant horse clip clops and beer stein clanks.
By the time our tour ended six months later, we were brain dead. Even the goddamn-mother-fucking Gherkin Pickle wagon couldn't have woken us.
From the book Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll by Ann and Nancy Wilson with Charles R. Cross. Published by Harper Collins.
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