Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Books

Review: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart offer seductive storytelling in ‘Kicking & Dreaming'

Go on, be the millionth dude to ask Ann and Nancy Wilson what it's like to be "women who rock" and see where that gets you. Straight out of the gate in Kicking & Dreaming, a tell-all about the birth of musical behemoth Heart, the sisters respond to that sexist query with a yarn about Hannah Dustin, a long-ago relative who "murdered men with a hatchet, scalped them and later sold their scalps for a reward."

Wielding an ax — of the blade or guitar variety — is in the Wilson sisters' blood. So is defining life not along gender lines but by who can rock the hardest on stage. Cue the raging Heart classics: Crazy on You, Magic Man, Even It Up. Yeah, like that.

After reading Kicking & Dreaming, I'm hearing the Wilsons anew. Alternating back and forth with filter-free reminiscence, Ann — struggling with her body image and the constant annoyances of a patriarchal society — and Nancy — trying to find herself in her older sister's dynamic shadow — weave slyly seductive storytelling. And wow, do they remember everything.

For all the sib rivalries in rock, Kicking & Dreaming is a celebration of sisterhood, from a childhood spent following their Marine dad all over the globe to getting their start in Canada to owning the radio in the '70s and '80s. And the twists are sublime.

In '76, as fame was beckoning, Ann had a run-in with "Tone-Knee," a loutish "radio promo guy" in Detroit. She writes: "To Tone-Knee, it was the most natural thing in the world to walk up to me and ask me where my lesbian-lover-sister happened to be. If Nancy had been there, she might have smacked him with her guitar. I, however, was immobilized with rage." He then shows her his naked lady watch. Uh-oh.

"I left the venue and went back to the hotel. I sat down with pen and paper, and started writing a song. No song is completely about any one person, and what later came to be known as Barracuda was not just about Tone-Knee: It was about how this thing we thought was about art was, when mixed with sexuality and marketing, just a sleazy commodity," Ann writes.

That's a killer story, one of many Wilsons-versus-the-World gems. And yet it should be noted that Ann and Nancy are definitely not feminist scolds, relaying a host of R-rated tales and a laundry list of '70s-fueled sex and drugs. There's also plenty of hot celeb dish, from touring with "little bastard" John Mellencamp to trying to outwit deranged Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle to cameos by Freddie Mercury, Stevie Nicks and Bono.

Heart deals with all manner of soapy drama — child-rearing, Nancy's divorce from writer-director Cameron Crowe, the death of their parents — but through it all, Ann and Nancy lean on each other.

Heart is nominated for 2013 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; winners will be revealed next month. For the Wilson sisters, though, their talent has already been validated. "I am more a fanatic of Nancy Wilson than anything else," Ann writes. "I need only look over at my sister — onstage, or off — and know she is a fanatic of me."

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

In addition to memoirs, this season brings rock star biographies, letters, interviews and poetry.

Comments
Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

NightstandLee GoldbergGoldberg, the author of 30 books, has also been a writer and producer for several TV shows, including Monk and Diagnosis Murder. His new novel is True Fiction, an Ian Ludlow mystery. When we caught up with him by phone recently ...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Book Talk The fourth annual SunLit Festival concludes today with these events. For information, go to facebook.com/sunlitfestival or keepstpetelit.org/sunlit-festival. All events are in St. Petersburg. • 37th annual Florida Antiquarian Book F...
Published: 04/20/18
Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

If Willis McCall were a fictional character, he’d be too far over the top to be believable. Readers (and editors) would scoff that no one could be such a monster of violent, unabashed racism — and get away with it for so long. But McCall...
Published: 04/20/18
Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

NotableSince you askedThree women whose jobs involve giving advice write about navigating their own life choices.Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions From a Modern Advice Columnist (Grand Central) by Meredith Goldstein, the Love Letters columnist...
Published: 04/20/18
Rachel Slade talks books, magic hands in the library and the sinking of El Faro

Rachel Slade talks books, magic hands in the library and the sinking of El Faro

NightstandRachel SladeIn her new book, Into the Raging Sea, Slade gives an in-depth account of the tragic sinking of the El Faro, a Jacksonville-based cargo ship that plummeted to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Joaquin. While doing...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/24/18
Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

In 2016, as the director of the FBI, James Comey publicly dissected Hillary Clinton’s email server controversy. Later, we learned that Comey was keeping to himself the beginnings of an investigation into Russia’s active interference in the U.S. elect...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Henry David Thoreau once heaved a big stone against the trunk of a chestnut tree to bring down a shower of nuts. He loved their sweet meat, but the meal filled him with guilt. "It is worse than boorish, it is criminal, to inflict an unnecessary injur...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida got a shoutout from the Pulitzer Prizes on Monday: The 2018 literary prize for history was awarded to University of Florida professor Jack E. Davis for his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.Davis, who grew up in Pinellas County and...
Published: 04/16/18
Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

NotableLegends 2.0Three new books offer striking reimaginings of the tales and legends of different cultures. Children of Blood and Bone (Henry Holt and Co.) by Tomi Adeyemi is a debut YA novel of epic magical adventure with characters based on the O...
Published: 04/13/18
Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Lots of things to do for literary-minded folks in Tampa Bay, and most of them are free.
Published: 04/12/18