Nancy Wilson looked back on Heart’s catalog in a new interview where she names which song is the band’s best and which song has the “ballsiest lyrics.”
In a feature series from Vulture called “Superlatives” where artists talk about the best and worst moments of their career, Nancy named “Mistral Wind” from 1978’s Dog & Butterfly as Heart’s best song.
“It really paints the whole picture of what Heart’s capable of doing, because there’s storytelling and poetry to it,” said Nancy. “There’s a sweeping philosophical symbolism to it. It’s also got this dissonance of a guitar intro, which gives way to a big storm that sweeps you through the song and leaves you out the other side of the song as if your life has changed. I realize that’s a lot of highfalutin imagery, but I do think that’s what the song achieves. [Laughs.]”
Nancy adds, “It’s a ‘Ulysses’-type song. It describes the journey of waiting for the wind to kick up in your life, and then it does, and then it takes you on more of a wild ride than you ever expected to be on — a life-threatening wild ride. And you’re a changed person forever. You’ll never look at life the same way again. “Mistral Wind” represents all cylinders of Heart. We’ve always tried to be heavier and more poetic and life-affirming. Maybe even bird’s-eye-view in certain ways, not just on the ground singing about boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. That’s never been our forte.”
As for which Heart song has the “ballsiest lyrics,” Nancy chose the band’s hit “Barracuda” from their 1977 album Little Queen.
“‘Barracuda’ is a scathing attack on the slimeballs, plural,” begins Nancy. “It’s the person who represents that slimeball in the industry, who comes up and tries to fit you into a very small box as a woman with sexuality and objectification — all those slimeball things that they can force-feed you that we weren’t ready to be categorized as. We weren’t going into that box.”
Nancy continued, “Somebody within the industry said to Ann, ‘Oh, you and your lover Nancy, right?’ Ann was so indignant. Hell, her boyfriend was right over there in the same room. It was such an insult because we were there for the art. We weren’t there for the salacious slimeball mentality of the industry. She wrote the words to ‘Barracuda’ that night in a hotel room and then we put it together really fast.”
Nancy concluded, with a laugh, “The song represents the power of a couple marine-corps brats. You don’t want to see that war face.”