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| 20 August 2020 | 3 Replies

By Shane Pinnegar

No matter which era or style of Heart’s incredible career is your favourite, you’re well catered for.

The 70’s gave us such mega rock anthems as Crazy On You, Magic Man and Barracuda, not to mention more acoustic offerings as Dog & Butterfly. The big-haired pomp of the 80’s saw them enjoy a huge career resurgence with hits Alone, Never and These Dreams. Their electric works truly do electrify, while the sisters Wilson can hypnotise with their gentler, folkier outings.

Ann’s vocals and Nancy’s extraordinary guitar playing are a potent combination, but their trajectory has been up and down. After a fantastic run during the 70’s, in the 80’s they’d had a few flops and their record company insisted they bring in outside writers to help them craft another hit.

The strategy yielded excellent results with their self-titled so-called ‘comeback’ album, coupled with a new, glammed and pompadoured image.

But by the third album of this new cycle of success, 1990’s Brigade, they were slaves to record exec profiteering, and forced into recording what is arguably (inarguably, if you ask me) the nadir of their career.

All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You, released over thirty years ago on the 14th March, 1990, is truly a stinker. Written by producer Mutt Lange, apparently with Don Henley of The Eagles in mind to record it, it was originally recorded in 1979 by Dobie Gray, he of the smash hit Drift Away.

Heart wrote a new set of lyrics, tweaked the title from All I Want To Do… to All I Wanna Do…, then knuckled down and finished the recording begrudgingly.

The end result, produced by Richie Zito, is exactly the sort of over-indulgent tripe which grunge would shortly rebel against.

[As a quick aside, Heart did pretty well out of grunge, when their Seattle recording studio Bad Animals, which they owned from 1991 to 1997, was used with great results by such luminaries as Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, R.E.M., Neil Young and many more, including Heart themselves]

All I Wanna Do… is deplorable enough in its saccharine, lazy pop melodies and overblown over-production that it’s just about enough to drive anybody to hard drugs or to launch their own punk or grunge band. I contend that the likes of Poison and Motley Crue had nothing to do with the anti-hair metal sentiment which saw grunge become such a behemoth, but the blame firmly lies with this sort of dross.

But as bad as the song itself it, even worse is its appalling lyrical message.

If you really feel the need to torture yourself, here’s the video clip:

In Heart’s version of the song, the narrator picks up a hitchhiker standing forlorn in the rain.

It was a rainy night when he came into sight
Standing by the road, no umbrella, no coat
So I pulled up alongside and I offered him a ride
He accepted with a smile so we drove for a while
I didn’t ask him his name, this lonely boy in the rain

It doesn’t take long for our heroine to start feeling a bit randy towards her new, nameless friend, so she seduces the hitcher into a one-night stand, professing a magical, instantaneous and profound love for him.

Fate tell me it’s right, is this love at first sight
Please don’t make it wrong, just stay for the night

That’s okay in itself – sometimes you gotta get it where you can find it. But hold on, it seems this lady has done this before…

So we found this hotel, it was a place I knew well

Hmmm, alrighty, I’m not here to judge. It seems like everyone had a good time, and that’s what matters… especially her…

We made magic that night. Oh, he did everything right
He brought the woman out of me, so many times, easily

But it appears that this “love at first sight” was not to last, and she bolts out the door as soon as she has had her fill of multiple orgasms and the guy has finally collapsed, exhausted…

And in the morning when he woke all I left him was a note

Now it gets a bit dark. We learn that the lady in question wasn’t looking for love at all – in fact it was she who was after a ride – and she has deliberately used her new friend (still sans name, despite him being such a generous lover) to conceive a child WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH HIM AT ALL.

I told him I am the flower you are the seed
We walked in the garden we planted a tree

That’s not how fauna biology works, in my understanding. But as confused as the analogy is, we all get the point, right? She’s pregnant. Our narrator has got what she wanted – ovaries full of man gravy.

Her note goes on to emphatically declare that she is not interested in a friendship, let alone a relationship. She doesn’t even want the guy to have any involvement with the child which she is dead certain that they’ve conceived a few hours ago (despite her knowing the hotel well, so I’m guessing she’s done this before without the desired result). This all seems rather premeditated, don’t you think?

Don’t try to find me, please don’t you dare
Just live in my memory, you’ll always be there
All I want to do is make love to you
One night of love was all we knew
All want to do is make love to you
I’ve got lovin’ arms to hold on to
Oh, oooh, we made love
Love like strangers
All night long
We made love

Well, it turns out that she was right – she was indeed the flower, and he did indeed supply the seed, and now there is a tree in her belly – so to speak. But the story does not end there…

Then it happened one day, we came round the same way
You can imagine his surprise when he saw his own eyes

Erm – excuse me? He’s surprised to see the kid is the spitting image of him? Why is he surprised when you left him a note telling him – albeit very poetically – that you’d used him to inseminate you?!?

All of this is pretty shitty behaviour, but the worst is yet to come.

I said please, please understand
I’m in love with another man
And what he couldn’t give me
was the one little thing that you can

We discover that the lady is in a serious relationship, and she loves him very, very much… but he is infertile, and all she wanted the hitchhiker for is “the one little thing” that he can give her that her partner can’t. I don’t even know where to start with this section. Had she not considered IVF? Adoption? Getting a friend to do the do?

Doesn’t it seem pretty drastic, as well as dishonourable, to pick up a total stranger, use him for his sperm then abscond in the night, and (presumably) lie to her partner about the genesis of their progeny?

And then she finishes off the story with some contradictory statements along the lines of – we only had one night together, but we still want each other, amirite?

All I want to do is make love to you
One night of love was all we knew
All I want to do is make love to you
Come on, say you will, you want me too
All I want to do is make love to you
One night of love was all we knew
All I want to do is make love to you
Say you will, you want me too
All night long…

Sure, there is a feministic angle that turns the tables on men using women for sex, but this song takes that to an unacceptable extreme. The narrator lied to the hitcher, and presumably lies to her husband about their child’s conception. Nothing about that is cool – and yet somehow the song was immensely popular. It reached #1 in Canada and Australia, #2 in the United States and Sweden, and top ten in the UK, Belgium, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, The Netherlands

It should come as no surprise that – to their immense credit – the Wilson sisters have since disowned the song. Wikipedia quotes singer Ann Wilson as rebelling against the musical style of the track: “Actually we had sworn off it because it kind of stood for everything we wanted to get away from. It was a song by Mutt Lange, who we liked, and it was originally written for Don Henley, but there was a lot of pressure on us to do the song at the time.”

In a 2015 interview with US TV personality Dan Rather, Ann spoke of her distaste for the lyrics, summarising the plot as “It’s like, you’re a hitchhiker and I don’t know you, so let’s get in the car and exchange fluids, and now get out… that’s hideous.”

Rather comments how successful the song was and how people still want to hear it, leading guitarist Nancy Wilson to sums up her sister’s distaste for performing the song thusly: “the thing is, that unless you’re Ann Wilson and you have to stand there and deliver this message that’s in the words, you know – most people when they hear something that they love, they’re not thinking into all the corners of the song, they’re just feeling good and listening to it.”

Heart now refuse to play the song live no matter how much their fans request it. Setlist.FM shows that they have played the song only three times since 1998, most recently in early September 2011 in Las Vegas.

All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You is undeniably catchy and as mentioned above, it does boast a certain measure of female empowerment to its lyrical story, but it is without a doubt morally repugnant and, for this writer, inarguably the worst moment in Heart’s otherwise illustrious career.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Brandy says:

    Who were the actors in the video? It seems as if they never did anything else…Did this video ruin their careers?

  2. Shane says:

    This is an excellent question, Brandy! Unfortunately IMDB don’t list the actors names – only the band members – so I struck a dead end diving into that one. If I discover more I will return with an update // Shane

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