What does that song mean?

Heart | How Bad Are Those Animals?

Posted Dec 23rd 2023, 16:46 by Penguin Pete

What sounds like they could have been friends with Pat Benatar or Joan Jett, but maybe double-billed with Poison or Guns & Roses one time? Hard soul-rock lyrics hitting passionate spectrums between Iron Maiden and love ballads that were equally palatable to your sister and your brother in the ‘80s; the brother who was deep into D&D, MTG, and Elfquest. You know you’re out there in the lonely ‘80s pop landscape, conquered by the march of scrambling Rubick’s Cubes.

Whew. slap slap slap

Let me rephrase that. It’s the holidays, and Santa Penguin has been hard at work at my other gig where I review legalized drugs. That’s the load I’m working under this holiday season. The last sane neurotransmitters in my brain tumbling like marbles in a washing machine, rafted about in a storm of commercially legal chemicals. Dirty job but somebody has ti di it (I get many thank-you emails by the way, and I know those 4.2K follows we get on YouTube aren’t just hate-stalks from bots).

Quite a transition from the time of then to now, but back to the Heart of the matter. No, not the organ. The rockin band Heart behind the 1987 hit "Who Will You Run To?"

Friends, you had to be there in 1987, Ann Wilson’s powerful voice would blare out of the radio speakers everywhere, and then the station would rotate that with Joan Jett kicking ass, or Banshees, or the token current Madonna single, then sliding sideways through Benetar to land on another Heart ballad, served with a layer of soul-deep romanticism. It was the age of Grrl-power rock, but I digress.

Dianne Warren Penned “Who Will You Run To?”

“Who Will You Run To?” was not written by anybody in Heart, but by Dianne Warren. She’s the song-writer behind more hits than you realize, racking up multiple awards in Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, and a Billboard Music award. Among her songwriting credits:

* "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" – Starship

* "If I Could Turn Back Time" – Cher

* "When I See You Smile" – Bad English

* "Blame It on the Rain" – Milli Vanilli (that’s right, they still couldn’t be bothered to sing it!)

* "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" – Aerosmith

Looking across Dianne Warren’s catalog, we see a penchant for deep, meditative lyrics and an overall upbeat look on life. Since Warren only writes for other artists, she has the distinction of having nine of her songs hit the Billboard Hot 100’s #1 – all by different artists.

Heart’s Bad Animals album

In case the title was too cryptic for you, we’re referring to the 8th studio album by Heart, Bad Animals, from whence “Who Will You Run To” was released as a single. The B-side of this, for reasons unknown, was “Magic Man” off their first album.

That song was written by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who also wrote for a few songs on the Bad Animals album, including the title track which was not a significant hit.

The title itself came from Ann Wilson’s dog, in an incident where they were touring and the hotel wouldn’t let them keep her dog in her room. Her manager had to babysit the dog.

The major hit tracks on Bad Animals all came from other song-writers, including the collaborative team of Kelly-Steinberg (“Alone”), Holly Knight (“There’s the Girl”), and Lisa Dal Bello (“Wait For an Answer”).

Now, Heart had been in business for a while, cranking out double-platinum albums from the mid-’70s onward. But Bad Animals was the first Heart album to chart worldwide, kind of marking the point where they became superstars. Their next album, Brigade (1990) pulled the same trick, both of them selling multi-platinum. After that, their album charts start to lag again, so the late ‘80s could be said to be Heart’s peak.

The singles charts tell a similar story. Now, “Who Will You Run To?” is a radio-friendly song, and rightly so, getting huge airplay on stations even today. But the next big hit from Heart became their most controversial, “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You.” That one got played to death! Stations would just spin it every fifteen minutes day and night, and it was the only single released by Heart to be certified gold by the RIAA. Being about a woman who basically uses a random stranger as a sperm donor, it ruffled a few sensibilities. That one has fallen off in airplay.

As for the rest of the Heart catalog, with top-ten hits charting from 1975 to 1993, we’re assured that their music will endure in radio play popularity for years to come.





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