"4 Edward", a new solo song from HEART's Nancy Wilson, can be streamed below. The track, which is a tribute to late VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, is taken from Nancy's debut solo album, which will be released on May 7 via Carry On Music. The LP was recorded primarily in Wilson's California home studio, working with band members and special guests remotely.
"Being off the road last year from touring with HEART, and at home with my good guitars and amps out, I felt like I was once again able to reconnect with my pre-HEART self, my college-girl self, creating poetic, intimate and romantic songs, which pretty much is what I first brought in to HEART," she said.
Most of the tracks are originals, but Wilson decided to include a handful of covers by a few of her favorites, including a female perspective of PEARL JAM's "Daughter", a stirring turn of SIMON & GARFUNKEL's "The Boxer" featuring Sammy Hagar, and an ethereal cover of THE CRANBERRIES' "Dreams", featuring Liv Warfield (Prince) from Nancy's previous band ROADCASE ROYALE. The first single from the album was Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising", which dropped last fall. "During this horrific time in the world, with all this enduring loss, it seemed like the right time for an aspirational song about hope and perseverance," Wilson says.
The other eight tracks are originals, mostly acoustic ballads, but there are also some rousing rockers like "Party At The Angel Ballroom" which features a superstar backing band, including Duff McKagan of GUNS N' ROSES and Taylor Hawkins of the FOO FIGHTERS. The album ends with "4 Edward", a song that captures the full spectrum of loss, love and redemption in one instrumental coda.
Asked if she ever got to meet Eddie or tour with VAN HALEN, Nancy told Australian Musician: "Oh, yeah. We played with VAN HALEN a few times in the earlier '80s mainly — at festivals and just gigs that we were opening for them. Those brothers, they were out of control — they were always out of control. They were the ones who we would end up in some bar in a hotel with. And they were, like, 'Try this kamikaze.' They were a really bad influence on us. Then they would just get into a yelling match, they were so out of it. And then, a couple of minutes later, they'd be hugging: 'I'm sorry, man. I love you, man.' They were just really out of the realm of normal. But same on stage — [they were] just absolutely an incredible rock band, especially with what Eddie invented.
"One time Eddie said to me — and I love to tell this story — 'I love the way you play that acoustic guitar,'" she continued. "And I go, 'Well, thanks. Coming from you, that's everything. Why don't you ever play acoustic guitar?' And he said, 'Well, I don't really have an acoustic guitar.' And I was, like, 'Well, you sure do now, because I'm giving you one right now.' So then, cut to the crack of dawn the next morning, and my phone in my hotel room rings, and it's Eddie. And he goes, 'You've gotta listen to this. Listen to this. Listen, listen, listen, listen.' So I was, like, 'Okay.' I was not even awake. But he played to me over the phone this really beautiful piece of acoustic music — an instrumental — that had elements of classical and then some really rock stuff in the middle, and then another beautiful melodic flourish at the end.
"So I got to be the one who gave Eddie his first acoustic. And somewhere there's gotta be that song [that he played for me] somewhere recorded; it'll probably turn up.
"So what I did is, for him, I wanted to return the favor of something that was so unforgettable, just over a hotel phone, that he played for me. So [my song is] like about a minute and a half, and it starts out very sort of classically oriented, and it goes into a rock thing. So the shape is very similar to what I vaguely recall, what he [played] for me. And I'm really proud of it, and I'm proud of the whole thing."
The title track "You And Me", as with several of the songs on the album, reunites Wilson with longtime collaborator Sue Ennis, who co-wrote many of HEART's classics with Nancy and sister Ann.
"I've known Sue since I was 12," Nancy says. "Back then she was a high school friend of Ann's. We've always worked well together."
With her band HEART, Nancy Wilson has recorded 16 albums, sold over 35 million albums worldwide and has four Grammy nominations. She had previously released one other album with just her name on it, "Live At McCabe's Guitar Shop", which captured her playing a set of covers and new songs in 1999. But she considers this her first true solo album, a positive creative move amid a surreal year of loss; life during lockdown.
"I don't know why it took me so long to do this," she laughs. "Maybe I was stuck in traffic, maybe I was stuck in the HEART vortex of it all." But in a year with "no traffic," Wilson finally found a place for the music she's been writing in her head for decades.
"You And Me" track listing:
01. You And Me
02. The Rising
03. I'll Find You
05. Party At The Angel Ballroom (feat. Duff McKagan & Taylor Hawkins)
06. The Boxer (feat. Sammy Hagar)
07. Walk Away
08. The Inbetween
09. Dreams (feat. Liv Warfield)
10. The Dragon
11. We Meet Again
12. 4 Edward