Classic rock fans might remember the band Heart as “the first hard-rock band dominated by women”. It’s an audacious remark, but one that I definitely believe rings true. Without frontwoman Ann Wilson and her younger sister guitarist Nancy Wilson, it’s doubtful Heart would have ever climbed the dizzy heights of rock ‘n’ roll the way they did back in the 1970s. You only have to look at Heart’s debut album Dreamboat Annie (1975) and the hit singles it spawned in Magic Man and Crazy on You to realise that the Wilson sister songwriting team had an ear for originality and creativity. The latter in particular is one of the greatest songs Ann and Nancy Wilson ever wrote and recorded together. 

According to Ann Wilson, Crazy On You is a song about love and the fragile state of the world. Moreover, at the time Ann and Nancy first started to set it to music, they were listening to a lot of The Moody Blues. Nancy Wilson, in particular, recalls The Moody Blues’ song Question being an inspiration behind Crazy On You, especially its fast, fiery guitar rhythm. And so, with that in mind, Nancy set about writing a uniquely bold intro on her acoustic guitar. 

While the album version is incredible, crisp sounding and to the point, there is probably nothing better than hearing (or seeing) an extended live version of it, especially when Nancy is completely in the zone. Her ability to improvise and effortlessly finger-pick her acoustic guitar is a sight to behold. It’s no wonder why she is regarded as one of the greatest female guitarists of all-time.

Interestingly, on the subject of playing Crazy On You live, Nancy once said the following in 1977: “Whenever I have my guitar, I always feel like I’m in a different space. Here is my tool and I have this power now. I used to play it the same every night and just got used to it and started getting real tired of that because I didn’t want to be predictable. So each night I tried to spring something new on myself and sometimes it’s a little tricky because you don’t know what your really gonna do. It’s just up in the air until it happens. But even nights when I feel like I didn’t play it very well, it seems like people still go crazy….”

Photo credit: I am unsure of the copyright status of the header image of Ann and Nancy Wilson. I make use of it under the rationale of fair use because no free appropriate alternative seems to exist of the Wilson sisters from the mid 1970’s at the peak of their powers.

Posted by Robert Horvat

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

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