Ann Wilson Covers Steve Earle's 'The Revolution Starts Now': Listen - Rolling Stone
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Ann Wilson Covers Steve Earle’s ‘The Revolution Starts Now’ Ahead of the Election

Heart singer talks new single, life in quarantine, and missing the stage

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Heart’s Ann Wilson has dropped a cover of Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now.”

Originally the title track to Earle’s 2004 album, Wilson’s rendition stays true to the former, but with a sense of urgency that arrives like a jolt to the heart. “I was walkin’ down the street/In the town where I was born,” she sings over a searing guitar riff. “I was movin’ to a beat/That I’d never felt before.”

“Things are just building and have been building for a long time for this sort of fever pitch before the election, and I have never seen a time when people have been so divided,” Wilson tells Rolling Stone. “Even with the pandemic, which could have been a real unifier, it seems like there’s the lowest common denominator in human nature at play, where everyone’s just all split up and divided and hating each other. So this song talks about thinking higher.”

“I think it’s a message that it is really good for people to hear right now,” she adds. “It’s a third message — it’s not Trump, it’s not Biden, it’s something else. It’s us.”

The single’s artwork was designed by Shepard Fairey, famous for the 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The original photograph was taken early in Wilson’s solo career, backstage at a club in Oakland, California. “[He] took it and made it more iconic,” Wilson says.

Wilson has spent most of her time quarantining at home in Florida, but she recently rented a tour bus and took a road trip with her husband, Dean Wetter. They drove to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, where she recorded new music. “Oh man!” she says. “It was amazing this time of year to go through Utah and Wyoming and the mountains. It was just really something. When you roll through all these big cities, they’re so quiet. You can really feel the difference out there in the country.”

ann wilson trsn

Heart toured extensively last year, which marked the end of their three-year hiatus after splitting in 2016. Wilson was scheduled to embark on a solo tour in 2020, which was obviously derailed by the ongoing pandemic. Heart has also received offers to tour, but Wilson and her sister Nancy won’t hit the road again until there’s a vaccine and it’s safe. “There’s so many contingencies,” she says. “We would do that again if we got the offer and things were right. It has to be right. I saw that whole thing with Flaming Lips where they got inside bubbles and put the audience inside individual bubbles. I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ So claustrophobic — and kind of hot and sweaty.”

As someone who has spent most of her life onstage, it’s been hard adjusting to life on pause. “I’ve been doing [music] since I was in my mid-teens,” she says. “So this is the first time in my life I’ve just been living a so-called normal life — and it’s really weird. It’s just so featureless compared to that other life. Most days I really outrun boredom and depression, but not every day. I’m just trying to focus on writing and recording so I don’t I don’t make a thing out of a thing.”

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