Top of the Pops: Dreamboat Annie

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November 11, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Labeling Heart as “The female Led Zeppelin” does the band a great disservice for two reasons.  It robs them of their own identity while simultaneously chaining them to an image that is impossible to live up to.  Although the Wilson sisters are Zeppelin super-fans, and no doubt inspired by the greatest rock band of all time, Heart is more than just a cheap imitation.  With their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, Heart introduces listeners to the folk side of hard rock.  The album is more or less split between hard rock and folk rock which suits singer Ann Wilson and her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson just fine as the duo can play folk just as well as they can rock.

The name of the game on Dreamboat Annie is fantasy, as Ann Wilson sings about escaping into a fantasy world filled with lust, seduction, and undisturbed nature.  On the bluesy “Magic Man”, catchy “White Lightning and Wine”, and apocalyptic “Crazy on You”, Wilson compares either herself or the man who seduces her as an ethereal force of nature that can’t be resisted.  “Magic Man”, which opens the album, recounts a tale in which the narrator is seduced by a man who “Cast my spell of love on you, a woman from a child”.  By the time side two opens up with “White Lightning and Wine”, the best track on Dreamboat Annie, that same woman who had been so helplessly seduced before is now on the prowl herself, like some spider eager to seduce and consume any unsuspecting man who stumbles onto her web.  She’s content to “Chew you up and spit you out, never want to know your name”.  This magic man taught her the arts of seduction and deception all too well.

However, this escape into the arms of carnal desire isn’t as baseless and hedonistic as they might appear.  On “Crazy on You”, Wilson seeks refuge within the beast with two backs in order to escape a chaotic and terrifying world rife “With the bombs and the devils”.  Given the vivid imagery of nature and the spacey trilogy of “Dreamboat Annie” songs, since there is no escape into this green utopia, there is no choice but to burrow into the deepest recesses of sensual comfort.

Ultimately, the point of Dreamboat Annie is that such a dreamboat to carry us away from all of our troubles doesn’t exist.  The shared line “No one knows the lonely one whose head’s in the clouds” can refer to anyone who’s ever wanted to flee this world in favor of a fantasy land of their own design.  Dreamboat Annie is Ann and Nancy Wilson’s private voyage into their fantasy land where they are no longer troubled by speculative rumors, gossip, and a decaying society.

Dreamboat Annie presents a dichotomy between the real and the fantasy, where they present the world that they have to make do with versus the one that they’d prefer to inhabit.  The songs that deal with lust and consummation, “Crazy on You”, “Magic Man”, “Sing Child”, and “White Lightning and Win” all present the world as is, one where people are free to use one another without considering the emotional cost.  The other six tracks “How Deep it Goes”, the “Dreamboat Annie” trilogy, “I’ll Be Your Song”, and “Soul of the Sea” with their descriptive lyrics about nature and innocent concepts represent their ideal world, one that they hope to reach sailing away on Dreamboat Annie.  Despite their noblest attempt to describe their utopia, the best songs on the album are all the ones that rock, the ones that describe the world as it is.  Dreamboat Annie might describe this illusionary paradise, this world of flow as Plato would designate, but the actual world, this world of forms, ultimately proves to be more fun.  While trying to prove the opposite, Dreamboat Annie’s strengths ultimately proves its own ideals and fantasies wrong.

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