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Episode 48

Little Queen

Heart

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

Transcript

Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Cliff: You’re listening to TuneDig, a conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music, one album at a time. I’m Cliff Seal.

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Stapleton. Each episode we talk about a single album in depth, unpacking it through conversation to understand what makes it worth appreciating and learning a little bit about life along the way.

Cliff: If you’re listening for the first time because we’re covering an artist or a record you love, we promise you’ll learn something new or gain a new perspective by the end of the episode.

Kyle: And if you’ve stuck with us for multiple episodes, you know by now that you’re bound to expand your horizons. As we share a clear entry points for artists you may never have tried to get into before.

Kyle: Today we’re talking about Little Queen by Heart.

Cliff: So let’s start at an end and work our way back to the beginning.

Kyle: “Open: interior, night.” Cliff’s been working on his screenplay.

Cliff: If I wrote one, I would kind of be like this. I guess you’re playing stairway to heaven in front of, in front

Kyle: Uh, lone spotlight appears

Cliff: In front of the remaining, uh, live members of led Zepplin, um, as they watch you during their induction into the rock and roll hall of fame, which they think pretty highly of themselves, but I think everyone was pretty agreed that that they should be in there.

So it’s a pretty important moment, uh, in all of that already sounds like one of those nightmares where you look down, like you look out and you see Jimmy page making eye contact with you,

Kyle: Who’s going to play the biggest song by the literal rock and roll band in their biggest moment of recognition to date yet? Who would be talented enough and, or absolutely out of their gourd enough to even attempt a feat like that to almost certain failure and ridicule.

Cliff: I can tell you that who wouldn’t do it is pretty much anyone led Zepplin wouldn’t approve of,

I, I feel, I feel pretty

confident that they were okay with what was

which I feel, I feel confident is 99% of bands in rock and roll who say they love led Zeppelin led Zeppelin would be like,

no,

right. Add like six nines after a decimal point for that and we’re getting somewhere near Jimmy Page’s general regard for everyone else’s guitar playing. And if you’re confused by this, there’s a whole documentary where he sits in the room with edge and just stares at him, like, how did this happen?

Kyle: Who gave you a guitar?

Cliff: But that whole setup like, sounds like a nightmare where you make

eye contact and you’re like, oh, I’m I’m doing it. Oh my God. For the first time in my life, I’m doing something successful. And then you look down and like you’re pantsless and you, now you forget the whole song and everything just crumbles and crumbles

Kyle: Wait, when did I learn how to play guitar.

Cliff: Sure. I guess if you were panelists, your first question would be about your guitar playing and not about figuring out how to get pants on. Um, cause you’d be fine with Pooh bear at it at the rock and roll hall of fame, I

Kyle: I’d be covered by a guitar, in fairness.

Cliff: It’s I guess that depends on where you’re holding it, but good point.

it also sounds like so ridiculous to talk about because that would, that would be, that would be such an affront to one of the largest songs ever, uh, to, to not be able

Kyle: T TLDR the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Cliff: Right. And yet there’s that video on YouTube of Heart absolutely sticking the landing in a way that not only makes me cry as a general idiot, but was also making all of the members of led Zepplin cry in being able to watch their own song, which God knows. They’ve heard that song more than all of us. And all of us have heard that song so many times, right?

Kyle: specifically making Robert plant cry who was trying so hard to have disdain and not cry disdain for the thing happening

down there, but also disdain for feeling emotion welling up in himself about it such a satisfying mix of feelings in one face.

Cliff: I have my own feelings about the fact that instead of Nancy playing the solo, they still apparently tossed it to Mike McCready from Pearl jam who steps up in that moment.

Well,

Kyle: okay.

Cliff: If we had to do a, uh, let’s split Pearl jam into parts, I would have a general defense of the guitar playing. So I’m sort of okay with it, but it was,

Kyle: I’m also in favor of splitting Pearl jam into parts. So they can’t be on

one stage

I wanted to, I want to make a grunge connection later in this episode, but not that one,

Cliff: but

this is like, I feel like a really good vignette, I guess, of the heart that I think we ought to talk about today in that like little queen and as we’ll talk about magazine as well, around that time, like that moment of them somehow flawlessly executing stairway to heaven in the most high intensity cover situation ever, it, it draws a direct line back to when these songs just songs like Barracuda and a lot of other ones on this record.

I feel like they should have taken a lot of people a really long time to put together. Um, and they were just kind of like pumping out jams in the middle of the seventies, pretty naturally based almost entirely at that point on raw talent. And then just like their own songs propelled

them. Like there’s such a classic and great story.

Not only of

a band moving along by their own power, not necessarily catching a lucky break, just being awesome and sequentially moving up. But also like we want to make sure that we’re talking about today, the heart that is pre eighties heart, that could be a conversation

for another

day, but really specifically going back and talking about little queen

and the, what would have been called hard rock

of the seventies.

Kyle: Let’s stop

down If you’re like us,

and,

Cliff: is he going to stop

Kyle: and you’re of the classic rock marathon, all holiday weekend radio with. your dad ilk, you only know seventies, heart. And even by that token, thanks to our dads, you don’t know that much about Heart still, but you also probably don’t realize eighties Heart is Heart. I’m specifically thinking about These Dreams, massive eighties, pop jam insert here so that you remember what it is. And you’re like, oh my God, that’s the same band that did Barracuda.

Cliff: Well,

Kyle: two sort

Cliff: mostly

Kyle: same two people at the core of the thing. Uh, cliff is right. That’s a whole rabbit hole, Um, and

a Testament to the fact that they have

kept evolving over multiple decades. We’re not here to talk about any of that shit Okay. God bless it, but not for me.

Uh, seventies, heart is a capsule unto itself. Uh, and specifically this little artifact is, um, in the classic rock Pantheon, but frankly, I feel as qualified to talk about the classic rock Pantheon as anyone who wasn’t actually alive in the seventies could possibly be, um, it was the start of our record collections.

It is the language that we speak. It’s it’s our

bait.

Cliff: our first songs,

period

Kyle: for musical understanding in every conceivable way. And yet this is a man that just like was kind of happening in the background and not, not at the foreground. And so I’m glad to be talking about this record

Cliff: today.

Kyle: I think we picked it’s another one of those sleeper picks for me where we picked it,

decided to do it.

And I was like, all right, that’s cool. Filed it away. It’s coming up in the middle of the season. And then we started listening to the record and it was just like, damn. Oh, damn. Oh, damn.

And then it

just kept like one little thing each little play through, and it’s short enough that you can play through again and again and

again, and now the weather’s getting hot.

So it’s a good time to be thinking about this record and listening to this record. So I hope that you will, uh, as you barrel into summer and hot weather, uh, enjoy like picking up this record in the way that we have.

Cliff: It’s true that the, the vibes are, are very good. The vibes will surprise you. Because Barracuda Ritz. And we’ll talk about it a lot. Right. But it’s not the tone of the rest of the

Kyle: record

Cliff: really. Um, and in fact it,

Kyle: It’s a little bit of a pump fake.

Cliff: yeah, you kind of hit a col-de-sac immediately, uh, and turn around and go, we’re out Renaissance

Kyle: festival

Cliff: now by the second track and it,

Kyle: they did,

it in the, you know, it’s pretty interesting for the pre MTV generation,

because this record was 77.

Right?

Um, they, they, the

label put together a mini documentary for this, where they like went to the cover photo shoot. They showed, uh, them playing to 20,000 people. Um, and did like a little 15 minute vignette of some of the new songs. Um, and they were like, dreamboat, Annie was our ocean record. This is our forest record.

And it’s like, of course the band is going to talk about it. Like the elements. Like you’re fucking Mastodon.

Cliff: I would have loved the captain planet record when they got around to it. And that would’ve been, yeah,

Kyle: it’s the one with these streams. That’s that’s heart. uh, all right. I’m going to leave that in the episode, but let it be known. I would add it. Not in any other circumstance.

Cliff: I like how you said I’m going to leave that in. Yeah. Well, we’ll talk about this later.

Kyle: Go wait in the car.

Cliff: Yeah. And this era specifically is it gives us a really good opportunity to bring back up. I know we’ve talked about when we brought up led Zeppelin, for sure. Uh, and probably another record or two that touched on classic rock, but the, this mid and late seventies time period, especially is fun to talk about how all the ideas and concepts were getting bounced around between these bands, because it’s really easy to do for lack of a better term.

I think we’ll call. Classic rock confirmation bias. Okay. Like you, you start interpreting, especially for us man, like first exposure to early bands. Like I think we were talking about the other day, the like I’m the actual first song I can remember hearing and remembering was Frankenstein, but Edgar winter group, which is like not a normal place to start.

Um, and like that a long instrumental record with a synthesizer. That sounds like a guitar solo is like, okay, that’s my baseline now. Uh,

but like th that shapes so much of what you hear from this time period, whoever you feel like started the idea, you can then hear four other bands do it, and you think they’re ripping them off. Like if you think the stones came up with everything. I you can show you plenty of songs that sound like the stones, because stones wrote songs that sounded like everything else, but like, you can really easily hear led Zeppelin in here if you want to.

But I think what’s cooler to talk about, especially in the context of little queen, it’s like all, a lot of these bands were friends, bouncing ideas off of each other. And the fact that there’s two or three versions of the same idea, like the fact that Achilles last stand sounds like Barracuda is not that big of a statement.

You found two songs that sound similar from exactly the same time period, and they both are sick. Like that’s a great idea.

Kyle: What I love about that in particular though, is Nancy has explicitly said I was ripping off a Nazareth song when I did that. But the Nazareth song itself was a cover of a Joni Mitchell song from Blue, which is like all all the best things. happening, All like all the layers of heart that you need to know kind of at once the light and the dark the heavy and the, the heavy and the foci. Um, I think a broader point around context is like things were the literal opposite of the way they are

now. Uh, there, there was, you know, save, save, I guess for like some racial overtones, culturally, um, in rock music, there was this close to a monoculture. as there’s ever been in the history of this country by the mid seventies? Right? The cultural revolution happened. and that’s when Ann and Nancy were growing up in progressive Seattle, right. Where they have all the cultural revolution, 68 to 71 pushing the frontiers outward stuff. And then things have kind of crystallized with hard rock and and just like the explosion, of huge, huge rock bands by the mid seventies. Uh, so there’s there’s radio rock it’s on all the time. So I think that’s where a lot of the exchange

happened is like, you go get the 99 cent 45, and you’re

just playing these songs over and over and learning Um, and, and whatever, that kind of thing. And then you’re also, this was the peak of the like playing outside at a college football stadium or in a parking lot type days.

Right. All the stories that our dads told us growing up. where It’s like, why don’t they do that shit anymore? Uh,

Cliff: orders of magnitude, less music to consume overall. So that feedback loop was a lot tighter. Like I heard it, I liked it.

I got it.

Now I have it. Now I know it all. Now I’m at the show. Yeah,

Kyle: that’s right.

And, and it was a culture of anything that was coming through town at a given time. You’re going to go see it. I didn’t know until I told my dad that we were going to be recording this episode, he just casually mentioned like, Oh, they played champagne jam at the Georgia tech stadium in 1979. And they played at

like two in the afternoon and they were like the best band of the day.

And Aerosmith played that day. And Santana had played the year. before.

Cliff: that

Kyle: And like Bob Seger also?

played that day.

Cliff: Still. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Kyle: Hey, listen. man. Iggy pop said, Bob Seger was one of the best players he ever saw come out of Detroit.

Cliff: I mean, I hear it. I’m just saying, if you tell me that heart performed better that day than Bob Seger, did I believe it?

Yeah. All

Kyle: Yeah. it’s one of those things that like, I want to go on record as saying you should immerse yourself in the Headspace of like how people were consuming,

this kind of music, what the culture of this kind of music was the same way that we were talking about Jamaican sound system culture when we were talking about Augustus Pablo, like even though, even though this is our culture, this is the culture we grew up in. I still think it merits thinking about. What all was going on. And then as part of that, also important to note, heavy, macho, very loud, super testosterone-driven all dudes in this culture. There are a lot of women making great music across all genres. Definite

dearth drops off a cliff. When you get into the hard rock

arena, I get pun somewhat intended. I

Cliff: And that’s not a casual offhand, lazy observation about the time period, like everyone who talks about Hart, talked about how they stood in sharp contrast to what, to what you’re saying. We, we’re not just overgeneralizing.

Like people are like, no for real heart was the first band where, um, I, I think in one interview I heard that he was saying, uh, Hart was definitely the first band where women were making the decisions about what was happening in the band and were also the most important parts of the band all at the same time.

And in that sense, we’re the, you know, kind of air quotes, first big woman fronted band in hard rock, especially.

Kyle: A lot of the quotes that I read talking about that time the implication almost seemed to be, oh, we didn’t realize there were no checks on stage. or Like really at a lot of these shows, we didn’t realize there wasn’t a market for women and a lot of.

the stuff Until just now, like, oh, this is a thing that could have been happening the whole time,

Cliff: which is it’s

like watching somebody fly out your windshield in a car wreck going, I didn’t know. He wasn’t wearing a seat

belt. Got it.

Understood. Well, okay.

Kyle: Well, our seatbelts for

Cliff: Next time. This, uh, time

in reality comes back around.

We’ll do it

Kyle: that,

Cliff: Yeah.

Kyle: so there’s this record little queen. It’s their second and half third record. Um, we’ll, we’ll get into, to magazine in a second, but if you’ve, if you’ve been alive, if you’ve listened to a classic rock playlist on Spotify, certainly if you are old enough to have listened to terrestrial

radio and listen to a classic rock block

at any point in your life,

you’ve heard Barracuda

first song on this record, right? We’ll come back to that because there is stuff to say about it, what we hadn’t done enough of, I don’t think. And what has pleasantly surprised me is a couple of things about this record. One quality of production on all these songs recorded at mushroom studios, like mushroom labels, studio in Vancouver, literally carved into the side of the hill, um, a big live room insulated by cinder blocks.

So the way we talked about sound city for rage against the machine and Queens of the stone age, just kind of like a, how did this come to be here and have this amazing immaculate? sound? Um, there was also

Cliff: some sort of like energy vortex over

Kyle: Yeah.

A little bit of that. A little bit of like, why does the beer tastes so good and certain parts of Oregon because they’re using the air.

there. Um, there’s also a board also like similarly, to sound city, a to baseboard,

right? When everything in the late seventies was going to solid

state of, four four channel board, sort of converted into a uh, 16 track board. Um, but tubes because the person running the studio just really believed that stuff sounded

better with tubes.

And if you listened to this record, you could make an argument, that he wasn’t wrong.

Cliff: Um,

in some sense, everyone was objectively correct about everything

on this record,

for sure.

It’s unreal. How good

it sounds still.

How, how well everything stands up today is, is wild. And we’re not the only people to observe that

Kyle: all.

Yeah. So it’s, it’s the tubes and the great room. And the fact that they came in tight

on these songs and a lot of it is just live, play through Cause that was like a philosophical thing. Um, We talked a little bit

in the Erica Badu episode at the top of this season about Russ Elovato and electric lady and how he was going for like warm analog, seventies sounds.

I don’t he he’s never named check heart on any of these lists, but the way that acoustic guitar is might on 82,000 on mama’s gun. Like if you want a whole album of that, then that was the first thing that jumped out at me with little queen was like, Okay. You go to Love Alive right after Barracuda and the, the picket on that.

I liked because it just personally about space cadet, by Kayas for me. Um, but it’s like, it’s the kind of, not quite anything picking, Right. It’s it’s a little bit Zeplin. It’s a little bit Joni Mitchell.

Cliff: the beginning of what I got without the beat behind, but.

Kyle: Oh, well, I didn’t know we were going to be invoking sublime, but night everybody.

it’s a little bit like Celtic folk. It’s a little bit bluesy, but it’s crisp. It’s like right there, smacking you in the mix. Um, and it sounds so good loud in a way that most acoustic doesn’t to me,

Cliff: um, it really does sound like you’re in one of those guitar rooms at guitar center where like all the sounds gotten out of there and it smells like a bunch of guitars.

And if anyone is playing, you hear it, like it’s beside your head. But yeah,

Kyle: I don’t know

what else to say about the production value other than whether or not you like the songs or you think you like this kind of. music. It’s worth a good loud play through with the best sounding sound system, headphones, whatever that you have access to in your

life. This is a good reference tuning EEQ record, which I’ve never heard it referred to.

As you know, I don’t see it on those lists a lot, but holy shit, does it sound

good? Oh my God.

Cliff: At the very least one game you can play when you’re doing the at least one, run-through even a, for whatever reason, you’ve never heard this or think it will be terrible. Um, I’m not sure why, but hearing it really loud, it gives you the chance to play the, um, find all the places where the production flirted with going horribly wrong in somehow didn’t points because there for like that’s, what’s so interesting to me about the way that it sounds. Yes, somehow kind of immaculately recorded and mastered from like an acoustic guitar point of view drum sound great. I don’t know why. I don’t know why the bass sounds so great. It’s well mixed and all that stuff, but it’s, it’s interesting in the literal sense, because there are places where they will throw in effect or some reverb or some echo or something weird on a single instrument.

And I swear to you, if you will listen to some of these, it’s like, why does that sound right? Because it’s like, there are times where it sounds like something like is running through a cheap guitar pedal, and they’re just kind of guessing what’s going to come out the other side, like the bass is going to run through this thing. And why does that sound right

Kyle: Yeah.

Cliff: in there?

Kyle: NA Nancy said specifically, they don’t really remember how they got the tone for Barracuda and has been trying to replicate it ever sentence. it.

was like one of those little magic moments,

Cliff: But then also that they were, they were mentioning that they, they did the field recordings themselves for like what was in Sylvan song and things like that. So like there, there was no,

Kyle: and the field recording sounds really good. too. So the other one is at the top of hello where it’s like the carnival game. thing. Like why does that sound

Cliff: feel like I’m constantly dropping quarters in the

Kyle: Yeah. Yeah.

Cliff: time it

Kyle: So Chris.

Cliff: okay.

Kyle: Yeah,

Cliff: Yeah, it feels like a Tom waits song has accidentally come on. My Spotify.

Um,

Kyle: fucked you up. Good. Doing that record. That one took your brain a little sideways, still. After all these years

Cliff: It’s still even, yeah.

Even now it

Kyle: That’s your go-to reference for like that noise.

Shouldn’t be there.

Cliff: I just opening a

Kyle: a bug, not a feature.

Cliff: So walking into a room going what’s going on in here? No, no, no, no no

Kyle: no one expect inspected these pipes in 20 years?

Cliff: I’m like, are you guys okay?

Kyle: That’s a good, that’s a good Sonic contrast. Like Everything sounds the way it’s not supposed to on rain dogs. And everything sounds exactly the way it’s supposed to on little queen So satisfying the whole thing’s like a SMR for mixing, kind of. Okay. I found, I found the thing, Mike flicker produced the first three records and he said, people still ask me why the records sounds so good today. I think one of the main reasons was that the board we had was a tube mixing console, which had big transformers and tubes and the boards, which makes everything warm and human makes the drums and vocals in particular sound bigger and more present that board came out of muscle Shoals, Alabama. There were two of them and Al green got one and we got the other it was an old tube board, which you won’t find anywhere anymore. The other thing we used was big two inch tape and for effects, all we had was a real echo chamber. So like dub stuff. an actual room that you’d send a signal in with a microphone and a speaker. And we had a thing called an EMT plate, which was a plate suspended in the air for reverb. So my point is there wasn’t much you could do to mess it up today. There’s all kinds of processing gear, where you run your signal through this and through that. And by the time it gets to the end, it’s dead. So the main reason the record sounded so good as it was unadulterated. It was very pure and very basic. Everyone played at the same time. There was very little overdubbing. It was really how he sounded. And I remember Mike flicker also said in another interview, or maybe in this book, um, it’s called heart in the studio by Jake brown. Who’s written a ton of books about bands. Um, he said that he, he basically like, pre-mixed it in the room. He got at 90 to 95% of the way there. So that Ann and Nancy, when they came in to listen to playbacks, there weren’t really any surprises. The reverb was there, the delay and echo were there. Um, so when they came back into the room, the vocals in Barracuda, uh, already kind of had that space in the mix, which is like not necessarily super normal.

Cliff: It’s hard to explain, but that the, the whole, like, why don’t we just make this straightforward and make it sound like we sound like thing is exactly how most things sound terrible from that time period. Like it, it felt like they were doing some of these straightforward and it’s just even, uh, I, I, haven’t heard Anne say in recent interviews, how surprised she is about how the songs on little queen still stand up, both sonically and as songs themselves.

there’s some sort of like two plus two equals 10 magic stuff, but. It’s not discernible. You can’t, I don’t know. Every time I go looking for it, I can’t really find it. And it’s doubly fascinating because of how this record intersected with magazine. And

so little queen

is effectively like 50

ish percent, three quarters of an actual record that they wanted to do.

But magazine was supposed to have been, it was planned to be this whole concept record that they were already totally planning out going in on. which was like

Kyle: reaction to the shittiness of the music press at that time which evoked for me with my favorite band Skinner. the gimme back my bullets and, and don’t ask me no questions. And there are a lot of songs like that in the seventies that are like, why are you so stupid? Like, why can’t you just let us play music and enjoy playing music with our fans. Like What’s the deal with the fourth estate to the point that there are so many songs about it. You, you got to kind of start to wonder why well, you don’t really have to wonder if you dig for long, Why, why it was so bad in those days, and why is rolling stone still in existence and so bad to this day? Um, but that was an interesting thing in the culture at that time, like in pursuit of a big monoculture around music, there was a fourth estate that was stupid and salacious, and generally added no value, except for your friend Robert Christgau who wrote strange beatnik, incisive, weird things, the Tom waits of music criticism, if you will.

Cliff: He’s written so many that there’s so many to choose from that I’m sure you could, you know, fill up whatever column you’d be looking to fill up

at this point, uh, that dude’s written, I don’t know how many reviews, but so it’s worth, I guess, telling a little quick version of that story, just to kind of draw the line because yeah, there, um, label fuckery, toxic masculinity. We were covering the hits, uh, already on the story, um, which sucks, but it helps

Kyle: Good thing that’s all over now in the 21st century,

Cliff: we keep making that joke. And then we keep making this podcast and then things keep getting worse. So I’m starting to get worried that we’re like causing something to happen. Um, so, so heart basically. So, uh, dreamboat Annie, uh, is a great, has no business being as good as it is in general.

Kyle: And insanely good debut record.

Cliff: So after this

Kyle: It’s got what magic man, crazy on you? Um, it’s got the song dream buddy, any, which is really good. It’s kind of a concept album ish thing. Uh,

Cliff: The first, you know, minute and a half of crazy on you should be enough to convince anybody at this point, uh, that this band is worth funding.

Kyle: if you’ve played Guitar Hero on expert, you know. You don’t need to be convinced.

Cliff: Nancy was playing Guitar Hero on expert at like 14 or whatever.

Uh, but so, okay. So they released that record, uh, that had no business being that good. And just kind of, you know, we’re working with indie labels and all that stuff. Um,

Kyle: toward their asses off behind it, like Really

started gigging after that

toward like a a hundred gigs within the next year or something like that

Cliff: Yeah.

Got coming into the road, for sure. Like that. That’s why it’s so great to tell their story, especially from the seventies viewpoint, because they like their, their rise to fame. So to speak was so quick, but so, uh, expected relative to their level of talent and hard work put together. You know what I mean?

It’s, it’s sort of like wondering how prince got big, like, well, if you listen to prince live for like 30 seconds, you’ll clearly see. Yeah. Yes. He is the friendly purple Santos of our life. Um, doing the the snaps that make us dance instead of disappear. That was all off the top of my head. You’re welcome.

So, so heart is up in Vancouver and there’s a fun story about them. Basically, you know, they’re sisters who want to be in a band together and they know they’re going to do it anyway. And they, you know, spend a year or two, pretending that they’re not going to do it wondering if, you know, should I explore other avenues in life?

And then

Kyle: so they’re four years apart in age, but after being like cosmically connected through music, their whole life have really vivid and specific stories around the Beatles and seeing them on ed Sullivan and, um, really being into where, where most people I, the quote that I saw. Whereas most, most girls wanted to marry the Beatles.

They wanted to be the Beatles and like study their song craft and really loved Paul McCartney’s songwriting in particular. And then that was also married with growing up in a super liberal and open and free musical household growing up in the like sixties, late sixties, early seventies, musical revolution, but also interestingly having parents that got them into.

Uh, Harry Belafonte, Aretha Peggy Lee, um, Judy Garland they cited a lot. And I think when you hear the vocal harmonies on this record, you get that sort of thirties and forties song craft thing. They were also exposed to electronic music composers being in a really progressive place like Seattle.

So

they have a, you know, a thousand flowers blooming around them. They have like an effortlessly huge bevy of musical touchpoints. And the thing that struck me and we talked about before we started recording, is how. straightforward and plain spoken. They are about their purity of their love of music. And just the way that they talk about everything. and

Cliff: Nancy is like the Bob Ross of playing card, rock guitar.

Kyle: Totally. Just

This weird counterpoint thing is a happy tree.

to me.

Yeah.

Cliff: How do you play crazy on you? Nasty? Well, to be honest with you, I just do this don’t you like?

Kyle: he just pick it up and play.

Cliff: Yeah. You just move your fingers in a few directions.

Kyle: What was that YouTube comment, like see, trying to put words to something that she knows from muscle memory.

Cliff: Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s always a little bit of a pain. Once you ask an expert a question and you watch them try to break it down for you and you realize in real time, It’s a waste of this person’s brain to be trying to break this down like this for me, I’m sorry. I asked you,

Kyle: the, I

could delegate this, but it’d be quicker if I just did it myself.

Cliff: myself no points and may God have mercy on my soul.

Kyle: we also talked in the Olivia Rodrigo episode about how clear headed and articulate she is about her musical ideas from a very young age. So imagine if Olivia Rodrigo was one of the best guitar players and singers, like of all time, objectively in the genre of rock music. And that’s kind of what you have here.

It’s it’s striking when you watch or read interviews with them, how much music they have absorbed, like what pure real fans they are and how they match that with a discipline and a talent to want to add their own vocabulary to it. And yes, in essence, I know that’s what all new music is. You take your influences and you eventually turn them into something that’s only you, but they have such a, like, there’s such a poetry to the way that they go about it all.

Um, and I think part of that comes from the, uh, them being both big readers. Like I also read that who’s the the younger? Is Nancy the younger? Was a German lit major when she was briefly in college and read like Kafka and Dostoevsky. so they’re, they’re smart. They’re very smart and cerebral and not in an alienating way sort of in a different way than I would reckon Tangerine Dream and Edgar Froese to be where it’s very scientific and a little austere.

Um, it all, starts with that Beatles thing, that song craft thing, like I want to do stuff that people are going to connect with.

Cliff: I do think, like the early Beatles especially, one thing you can maybe say about heart that’ll box them in the right way, what they are, what they don’t have or what they aren’t, they don’t have anything urgent to say.

Kyle: Yeah. And

Cliff: I know a

lot of times,

Kyle: Al baby. It’s all about love.

Cliff: yeah, a lot it’s either about love or crying. The songs are not like, these are not Kendrick Lamar lyrics. You know what I’m saying, man, like, they’re, they’re pretty straight forward. They’re not necessarily proven a point being agitative it’s not really punk, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. Like the whole, the whole interesting bit of it to me, it’s like, there are.

There are a lot of sibling bands. Sure. Right. And sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes Oasis, uh, and then specifically having like a killer guitarist and a killer vocalist means that they could basically recreate any music that they were listening to really well. Um, by the time they would ever want to be able to do that. But I just think it’s, it’s good to kind of draw out that bit of like, this isn’t necessarily the same music where active listening is rewarded by this sort of like nuanced understanding of the underlying like emotion or drive or narrative, or, you know, they, they say that they had a concept for magazine that never came to be, but like, they just didn’t have a concept when they decided to then go record little queen.

Like it it was, there was nothing urgent, important, nothing that got carried through.

Kyle: The concept is we have three weeks to get an album on the to beat a court case. Yeah, Let’s do it.

Cliff: But like that’s sort of the purity and the magic of the seventies, heart, to me, that’s why it feels like there’s this record has no business being this good cause like why, why did you even make this?

It just, it feels like you were born literally to create this type of music with your sister.

I don’t, I don’t really know what happened in the decades afterwards. You know, we can, uh, I’m glad they continued to play music if that’s what they wanted to do. But this, like the songs that came out of just pure, like, I don’t know, four people just kind of liked each other, like two, two sisters, two dudes who for a while were able to live in relative harmony with one another and be in a band together and be in romantic relationships and just like kick ass at every possible opportunity.

Every like every moment they had to succeed, they did cause they stepped up to the plate and did it like the, of course this of the whole thing is just

so ridiculous to me when I think about it.

Um, in like that to me is what adds to the whole kind of mystique of

the whole thing. Like,

Kyle: it

Cliff: and even makes the story of how this record came to be feel almost ridiculous in and of itself because.

Well, we can talk about what drove the lyrics behind Barracuda, but like, that’s the only story like this. There’s no other like this situation or this traumatic event led to this. They’re just like we played folk music and liked Joni Mitchell and led Zeppelin. And this is what we’ve come up with together.

Do you like it? Yes. A lot of people like it. Okay, great. how, how that story can co-exist with it still being a story about a band who was just like pummeled by toxic masculinity inside of this like music industry where they just casually became the The foremost female fronted hard rock band who became an inspiration to all these other people. just, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain that to me. Like that context helps me listen to this record a little bit better and we can dive into the story and stuff, but like just, just the unreasonableness of the moment sort of makes me enjoy the way that this music came

out

Kyle: Yeah. I think that’s why I was so satisfied learning about them growing up, because there’s such a purity and a love of music that transcends they, they are going to keep making songs and doing it together.

That it’s a magnetic cosmic force between the two of them that almost makes a thing like a court case or a a toxic battle with their record label or just the general. culture of the boys club of music and business at that time, it was like, well, yeah, we’ll deal with it. because we have to, nothing is better or more important than the joy of just being with my sister in the living room, writing kickass songs and playing kickass songs for people around the the world, the rest will sort itself out. It’s all just obstacles to jump, to get back to doing that thing. Like Of course we would do it. Of course we would, it all smacks of the Johnny Cash. Like we’d play faster if we could. I know I cite that a lot, but I think that’s a thing in the artist mentality. Like that’s a through line of, you gotta have that single-mindedness that determination. And there’s so much of that in their lives. Growing up. It’s not an adversity based thing. They just love it so much.

Cliff: Like they’d be more earnest if they needed to, but they don’t want,

Kyle: Yeah. so I, I appreciate that. Um, I do think it’s, it’s worth a lot of this record feels very, uh, at the risk of saying this word because you invoke the band. I don’t mean the band. A lot of this record feels very sublime. Like the sense of the feeling you should post Malone of the nineties, bud light lime.

Cliff: You can taste that bud light lime though,

Kyle: you? sure can. Yeah, You’re drinking it out of a crock though.

Cliff: And you can feel that sublime you’re wearing a tank top. You smell vaguely of cigarette smoke. Am I skateboarding? When did I learn this? Whose small dog is this running alongside me?

Kyle: So there are moments throughout the record that. I think with really, that’s really a theme of this season. is like really getting into the active, listening, the being present, the finding the holy shit moments. They don’t, they don’t hit you really overtly much on this record because so much of it is folky, nuanced, whatever.

The first one that hits me after Barracuda is about three minutes in, on love, alive there’s they start layering the acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. And you’re just like, oh wow. It’s like being outside at a waterfall. You stumble upon a waterfall in the woods. and I kind of wondered, like, I, I was being reductive about the acoustic guitars thing.

I was like, yeah, they love led Zeppelin. They loved Zeplin three. They were trying to do that kind of whole thing, but there was a quote In the, in that book where Nancy said, um, yeah, I mean, acoustics are what we learned on. That’s our main core instrument. Even when hearts rocking, there’s always an acoustic at the center of it.

And I think acoustic guitars are almost holy myself. They’re just the coolest instruments in the world. You can do so much with them. They have so much character the way they’re made. They’re beautiful to look at, to hold in your hand and they have great voices. So like in Tangerine, dream and Pharaoh, when we were talking about it, started with one sound on one sequencer, and then it’s like, okay, now you add your thing.

Now you add your thing. The best answer is normally the simplest, like all this shit is Ockham’s razor type stuff, right? There’s acoustic guitar and heart because I just love holding an acoustic guitar in my hands and play it in the way that it sounds that’s it that’s the whole answer, not a big contrived formula, whatever.

So I think the songs rule and they transcend. because it’s not like some asshole in some rooms. was Like we need two chicks and they need to be sisters and they need to do hard rock, but with an acoustic guitar.

Cliff: Yep.

Kyle: No, they, that that’s that, that is at the risk of a pine that is as from the heart, as a thing could possibly be in this world. she also went on to say this Nancy all throughout the shifts and arcs of culture. And, And I always tried to keep our heads above the water as far as championing or being poster girls for the cause of equality of the sexes. We just put our head down and worked hard to change things by showing up and making our mark instead of politicking.

I think it’s tough enough for anyone artistic, not just women and the spirit of our music. We always felt powerful and effective as well as tender and vulnerable. That’s the duality of heart. Damn the torpedoes.

Cliff: Did she say that or did you add.

Kyle: that? No damn the torpedoes was the end of the quote.

Cliff: yeah. One takeaway from this episode, period. It’s just like, um, every time you wonder, “does Nancy rip?” Nancy rips at all opportunities with whatever it is that she’s doing and you must see at least one video of her speaking directly into the camera to get the full feeling of why that’s constantly funny, uh, and entertaining just to watch her be so good at everything, because she really does look like she’s the greatest PTA president who’s ever existed. every, whether she’s playing a guitar or talking about how she thinks about guitar or the music, it’s just like, I’m so glad that reality gave these people a chance to be this band Heart. Cause they, it really needed to happen.

Kyle: The, you know, we mentioned a grunge connection earlier and you’re saying the PTA president thing, while, a little pejorative. I understand. Uh, so they grew up in Seattle, which is like in the seventies was not a den of stuff. Didn’t make it out of Seattle. if It was happening. I mean, Hendrix played there. Right. But didn’t blow up till he left and went to the uK. So not a hotbed for rock and roll, um, in, the, in the transcendent national sense, but it was 20 years later, certainly. And Anne had a house on Capitol hill that she only very recently sold. And I learned, it was like where grunge dudes hung out.

Like the guys in Alison chains and Pearl jam just hung out there. and the Wilson sisters were equally devastated when Layne Staley died. And I think that cosmic connection is interesting to me. When you get to the last song on the record, go on cry. We played it right before we started recording. Cause I was like, butterfly meme. Is this a grunge song? Like a weird, it’s got a little of the no quarterly thing, but it’s way, more minor, key than most Zeppelin stuff is. Uh, it’s super doomy, but it’s also got that pink Floyd great gig in the sky vocal thing. It was my first, like I liked all this record and then had a moment with a song. Like this will go on every cool vibe, whatever playlist for me until the end of time. And we do, you know, now that we’re in the 50 episode range, we get the occasional odd, um, oh, pick up 1, 1, 2, 3 things. The season Bjork’s hunter comes to mind, uh, like stuff that I didn’t already really like. And then it sticks to my ribs. It’s hard to come by, but it happens. Go on cry. This is one of those for me. So I guess if nothing else happens as a result of this episode, hope everybody who digs classic rock will have a holy shit moment. Like I did listen to that song real, real loud, because it’s got the no quarter thing. And then it goes into the big shuffle thing and then it goes back into the no quarter thing and then it kind of like recedes and then it goes back into Barracuda.

Cliff: It was a really, those songs were really tough for me personally, because my rubric is overly intellectual. That’s why I’ve tried to talk about the, the weirdness of how obviously great they are because like the last two songs are called “Cry To Me” and “Go On Cry”, like, ah, okay. I, I need more heft. Okay. I need more heft than the topic of these two songs at the end, but yet two things are true. One is the, you know, the relative simplicity of the lyrical content, uh, is like totally betrayed by how great the songs are all every single time, um, which is kind of like a maxim of Heart, um, with maybe the exception of, of kick it out, uh, which is just one-to-one. Uh, and I mean that in good and bad ways, I guess, but,

Kyle: who’s the, who’s the “Jessie’s Girl” guy? Rick Springfield? Kick it out it seems like a Rick Springfield They like cheap trick song to me. It’s like, you literally kick it out you kick a leg up and you’re just like, oh, if I can leave one off the record. it would. It would be that one, but I’m still like I’m glad this exists.

Cliff: it, but it, this one’s so good. Hold on. Let’s let’s park the car here for a second. This one’s such a good example because even that song, uh, which is just like re overly straightforward as a whole

Kyle: Dennis

Cliff: but then you start, even if you try to get a little sarcastic on it, you’re like, well, those are just rock and roll by led Zeppelin. It’s just their rock and roll then. And they’re like, well, okay. So they just had a weird, like, you know, rip off of it, but then, then you start thinking like, hold on, what’s the topic of led Zeppelin’s rock and roll. Hold on. What’s the narrative heft of that guy. It’s been a long time since a rock and roll. It’s been a long time since I did the shrill. Let me get back like w so it just, it kept, he kept throwing my mind in these

Kyle: and that’s ripping off Little Richard. Yeah.

Cliff: So I kept going on all these little loops of just like, hold on. They like, they’re. Without being overly serious about it. There they’re really encapsulating and sort of concentrating, uh, like a lot of that turn from blues rock into boogie period.

And you don’t catch it all because they’ve got it

hidden across this whole record full of like folk songs, which will turn into a pink Floyd interlude. And only after you get to the end or the interlude, will you hear the little like, oh, they’re doing a funk vamp now, and now they’re done. Like they bury this stuff in here, but it, it it feels like a classic rock time capsule in a way where heart is equivalent to all those people that they remind you of. If that makes enough sense. Right.

Kyle: I got the sense and never more clearly than on treat me well, which is the song where you have an singing, which is really interesting. It’s like a blink and you’ll miss it. Uh, oh, no, no, no, I’m sorry. It’s Nancy’s

Cliff: thing, right? The one song where

Kyle: Yeah. uh,

any other record Dyani other band and you have that, you’re like, damn, that’s good. She’s good. What a great voice. Just not, not the goat. type thing. Um, I

Cliff: Mariah Carey’s sister. Does the record. Well, damn, no matter how good it is.

Kyle: But Mariah Carey sister is like Kelly Clarkson,

or something, you know, um, I read her vocal being compared to Karen Carpenter, which I think is, is, a, is a good comparison. Um,

Cliff: Both of them were

just are casually. Great.

Kyle: great. I, I wrote that. It’s great in the way that big boy is great, but he is in a group with Andre.

3000, you know? Um, But the song structure, of that is really interesting because no part overstays its welcome. Like every part’s little too short and they keep cycling back to it and that’s like kind of a quintessential heart type thing to me where you’re just like, okay, okay.

So treat me well as a microcosm of what you were saying, like there’s a ton packed into small spaces, uh, and, and sort of like the Nancy doing vocals on the record, there’s a lot of blink and you miss it. Um, the the other thing that. is Obviously prevalent on the record, but easy to gloss over the whole time is the vocal harmony, uh, and the benefit that we get of, um, sibling of blood harmony here,

Cliff: blood harmony is such a tight band name. Hold on just a second. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt you.

Kyle: that? What they call it when it’s Relatives.

Cliff: I had never heard that before, but if so, and I don’t I don’t mind I’m going to be googling that domain as soon as we’re done.

Kyle: blood harmony.com. Uh, so there, there are great moments of it all over the record. Um, my two, uh, two favorite ones are on cried to me when they say free and it goes into the upper register. And just generally like via theorial Background vocals on that song, period.

And then the title track, which is so funky

Cliff: We got to talk about it. Yes. So

Kyle: repin, and

Cliff: is low key, almost the best track on the record to

Kyle: It w it was for me until, until I got to go on cry.

I got a lot of listens through where I like

Cliff: sort of

Kyle: lost steam before the end. Um, and I was like little queen is tight. This is a rhythm blues song.

Um, this is the, this is the version of Aerosmith’s last child that actually should, have gotten made.

Cliff: oh my God.

It is a really

Kyle: downtown

Cliff: of what Aerosmith tried to do constantly. Cause it’s like it’s funk, it’s pink Floyd. It never likes sticks to one idea for too long. It just casually goes through waves and waves and goes in and out of a pink Floyd jam basically, and comes back

Kyle: they do psychedelic Super super well,

Cliff: once again, just having no business casually doing it that well and

Kyle: you’re talking about the bridge is the pink flirty thing where it doesn’t the, the energy of it, I guess sorta goes down, but it’s like an up plateau, stand up, on a plateau for that

Cliff: and double-time at the same in like I’ve never wanted in and fronted pink floyd more than I do when I listened to that song. But yeah, like just a specially playing that one back and going, how do they go from funk to where we end up in this song is I love it.

Kyle: I think you have a couple of interesting things happening in the band that lead to a thing like little queen. Um, so obviously they have these dudes in the band who just want to be and deep purple with, I I mean that, with all respect to the men in this band, not trying to do men, eraser in the name of the Wilson sisters. uh, But they, the drummer

who I think was their fifth or six, by the time this rolled around and by the way, Hart was a whole band before either of the Wilson sisters came along, they were army and then they were white heart, and then they were heart.

So a little bit of a Peter Green’s Fleetwood, Mac fledgling cover band version thing. Didn’t really become heart until the west Wilson, sisters came along one. And then the other, uh, But the, this drummer obviously loves the shit out of John bottom, right

So there’s the there’s the John Bonam, who was influenced by Zika boo from the meters.

And you have the weird shuffle, never do the same fill twice thing.

And

then you also have like the absorption

of so much kind of weird time signature things.

do to try to

Cliff: Oh, that’s what I was going to say. Yes, exactly. Their willingness to change time signatures.

Kyle: is

Cliff: It’s like, they’ll just have these little moments.

You hear it for sure. On Barracuda because the verse. Right. But the drummer’s willingness to just like, yeah, we’ll nail this. We’ll just like black dog, the shit out of this. And then the fact that the acoustic comes along with it to your point is always impressive.

It shouldn’t work.

And it does.

Kyle: they do turnarounds really?

Interestingly. like little queen is cool Because it’s compressed. Like I, if I had written that song, I would’ve stretched out a little queen and the harmony that balloon note harmony is like one of my favorite things on the record where they go little queen and they bend together in

Cliff: They do little like almond brothers,

esque transitions that to me

Kyle: yeah. But they compress it into The last eighth or 16th or whatever. Where you don’t quite get enough of it, which makes it, that much

Cliff: they never jam it.

Kyle: Yeah. They never jam.

on the, on the little queen bed note thing. I know.

Um, And that almost makes them.

like

Inverted proggy

in a way. Uh, It’s really sad. Rhythmically. They’re very satisfying in that way. And I think it’s the weird funk folk, whatever

thing.

So th the title track is like, I think one of the coolest things I’ve ever,

or,

or like another one of the, this should be a classic rock staple, and it’s not enough.

Cliff: Yeah.

Kyle: This should

be, I mean, you talk about Frankenstein, like put this on a playlist,

directly next to like,

oh, this fucking party is going off.

Yeah. Let me get another beer. I’m going

to Stay a little longer.

Whoever’s got the ox is like clearly doing a good thing.

the night.

Cliff: no one can rightfully not like Barracuda. Like that’s, it’s just, I don’t know. It’s it’s right there alongside everything else. You really have no business taking issue with it. It sounds like ACDC playing a blue oyster cult song. It’s like, everything is perfect about it. Uh, it sounds great. Uh, and it’s so simple and easy to play, which was, I, I always come back

to the combination of the, the way that music was approached then with how

relatively little music had been created overall, like means that these, all these like III, minor power cord rifts are just like sitting there and bands are cranking out these six songs that we get to remember because no one had just ever written something this basic and crushed it.

Kyle: It’s it’s So sick, that this genre of punk existed. Totally in parallel To actual punk, like the Ramones are happening doing down strumming in, might as well have been another timeline in the multi-verse and this is happening. Some somebody wrote about how, like the chug songs started to become a thing. So I mentioned the Nazareth Joni Mitchell thing, but somebody was like also a communication breakdown, also children of the grave.

So this was just like a thing that started popping up the way like reggaeton is sort of like a thing in pop music. Now just a move that somebody is like, this is cool. I’m going to do that. So that the borrowing thing that you were talking about, like the chug song thing was, I don’t know that it ever really like Crested into a thing, but it had moments like this and nobody with all due respect is Epling in Sabbath, uh, nobody did it better than Barracuda like this.

This was that thing perfected, and that’s not even the best part. of Barracuda to me. I think the, the riff is amazing. The verses are really cool. And the time thing that you mentioned, but specifically the jam where another band might’ve tried to put a big solo or like really max it out, they dropped it out, and just focused on the rhythm.

And the soloing is

actually really being done by the base In that part, Like they’re just sort of whamming the guitar effect. Um, I hadn’t really listened to the baseline in that part that much. And you kind of gotta get it loud to get to it, but it’s ripping it’s real ribbon.

Cliff: You’ll get caught being funky in a 35 mile an hour zone several times on this for sure. And I re I like, that’s one of my favorite parts about turning it up really loud. Cause you, yeah, you have to hear it cause it to the production points that we’ve made a million times it’s so tightly produced kick, especially in the patterns match the kicks so often that you kind of don’t catch that base unless you’re actually trying to listen for it. But it’s, it’s under there doing this job a hundred percent of the time.

Kyle: It is really well mixed in the air. Like I wouldn’t change the way the sounds, but I wished it had been a little more obvious to me a little sooner what was happening with the low end on best.

Cliff: Yeah, for sure.

I think a couple of things to help us wrap up. Cause once again, classic story. Um, how are we ever going to talk about hearts, little queen, which was like three quarters of a record when they really wanted to make magazine. And how are we going to talk about this for an an hour? And now there’s been no problem doing that whatsoever.

And yet there’s a million untold stories about, uh, the record that came before this magazine, how the record label treated them in response to basically them blowing up and saying, pay me money. Uh, like

Kyle: w w

to be clear were we tried to be really purposeful to not make that the episode. Cause that’s not, it is the story of this record.

Like I feel like we’ve said this a bunch this season too. The story of this record is not the story of this record. Like, like with mama’s gun, like with some of the other things where it’s like there’s a narrative out there. There’s one that you can get on the first page of Google search results. It helps inform your understanding of how this music came to be It is not what you should focus on.

Having said that I do think it is worth saying on the record, he here here’s a little bit about how this music came to be. We’ll save you a Google real quick.

Cliff: Yeah, well, yeah. I, yes. of saving someone, a Google, uh, just really cracked me Uh, if anything, we are ruining your Googles on a regular basis. Every time you listen to this podcast, but yeah, like, yeah, there are, there’s a story. A lot of stories that go all the way back through magazine that go to what in general happens when women just try to exist and happen to be good at something. And so there’s plenty of that story to be told about it. Um, and I’m actually do mean this on ironically, the first bit of the VH1 behind the music about heart does enough of a job of just like, all right, give me the, give me the story points and let me get through this. Uh, and it all does lead to yes.

Barracuda is about a terrible person asking Ann and Nancy ridiculous things because their record label put an ad in a magazine suggesting that the sisters were lovers.

Kyle: full-page ad in stone, which basically Like w one stop short of a billboard over Hollywood Boulevard in the seventies. So

Cliff: We don’t like, we need a cringe of cringe word, like, uh, ho how do I order of magnitude of cringe? It just, yeah. And I just, like, I don’t want to exist when I remember that this happened to people, but all that’s in there. And, but like my point about it is heart more maybe than a lot of other records or, or even artists that we talk about instead of sending you on a journey with a record where they set you off on something new to think about something, to reflect on something, to, you know, dig into or learn more about, or listen to, or. to me is in the best sense, a constant mental jukebox of the best 70s music. Because every time I listened to something, no matter whether it’s active or passive, no matter which songs I start with, no matter which order I do on little queen, it’ll make me go, oh man, there’s like 15 other songs I want to listen to now.

Oh, I forgot. I totally forgotten about that. Oh yeah. Which, which record is Achilles last stand on. And like, what was next to those songs on that record? Like w why did the drum sound that way? It just, it just, it activates every kind of childlike part of our music discovery thing that we get every now and then where it’s like, I can actually realize and actualize on all the benefits of Spotify and everything being at my fingertips.

Kyle: It bleeds through from them to us, the It’s a record to make you remember how to love music and

that it’s so much. simpler than you remember it being it’s it’s a good, it’s like a good reset record. It’s a, it’s a pallet cleanser in a way, but not in a, not in a way that it doesn’t have its own taste, just like it kills the plaque buildup in your love of music.

Cliff: Yeah.

And like other other records and artists from this timeframe can do the same thing. But heart specifically seemed to have a combination of being influential of other bands and not really worrying about whether they were aping other stuff it’s just like in opposition to led Zeppelin, for instance, who was kind of antagonistic towards the whole thing. Uh, like my heart is just like, yeah, it sounds like that. What is your question? Um, w why wouldn’t it sound like that? Doesn’t it sound cool to you? Like,

Kyle: love it too.

Cliff: Yeah. Um, but it just, you know, from.

Kyle: you feel absurd for like invoking intellectual property at all. Like Why would we do that? That’s not what music is,

Cliff: right? Yeah. It almost

does

Kyle: harshing the vibe, Todd.

Cliff: Yes,

totally. How it gives you that sense of how some of music really does kind of organically rise from a time period and a collection of people and all of that and how you can, like, you know, another trail this sent me down was just like, whoa. Okay. So if they were just like super anal about production, like steely, Dan, would it just sound like steely Dan, like there, like there was so much in that time where it just feels like people are really playing with this blossoming energy. Uh, and we’re learning how to channel the purity of blues and folk music.

And heart is a great example of a band that just let that pump through the music directly. And somehow here we are, 50 years later on the other side of it going, like, I think I connect with the. Way that you felt when you made this music, is that right? Like, why do I F I feel like I see something or feel something from a time period where now people could be a little bit more pure of heart about music, and hadn’t heard everything under the sun in, in, and it’s worth bringing up that feeling. Um, cause I didn’t want to feel that way about this record, at all. I certainly didn’t want to have any sentimental value or, or, uh, thoughts about it. Um, and honestly was struggling with w w um, why, why again, did we pick this particular record in the middle of the season? Uh, cause we picked some other like really solid, hard hitters and every time I came back to this album at the actual music, it just proved me wrong.

Kyle: Go to tunedig.com for your chance to win a free vinyl copy of the album we just covered. And follow us on Instagram and Twitter for even more info about the album, including playlist links to interesting articles and videos and even some stories that didn’t make the episode. Most importantly, though, please support your favorite local record store, concert venue, or buy merch from a band you love. Thanks for listening.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

SEASON 6

Season 6—featuring our most eclectic selection of albums yet—kicks off Friday, March 11, with new episodes every other Friday through July.

TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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FRIDAY HEAVY

For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.

SEASON 5

TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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TUNEDIG RADIO

SEASON 4

SEASON 3

SEASON 2

SEASON 1

BONUS TRACK EPISODES

Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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WHO WE ARE

We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.