August 2003
By Steven M. Housman

Annie Lennox: Soul to Bare

It’s been twenty years since Annie Lennox burst on to the music scene as one half of the Eurythmics with “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).” Since that time, I’ve listened to her, followed her career, appreciated her artistry as well as her voice, but never got ecstatic the way some others have. All of that changed last evening. I went to see Ms. Lennox in her only Los Angeles appearance to promote her new gorgeous CD, Bare. I haven’t seen a crowd of men react like this since Madonna, Bette and Barbra took the stage. If you thought LA were the first two letters for LAid back, forget about it! And it wasn’t just the gay men’s enthusiasm, there was a wide diversity of folks at the event. There were people from all walks of life. I was told Ms. Lennox wasn’t granting any interviews because of her grueling schedule, so I felt extremely fortunate that she took the time to answer some of my questions. She’s was smack-dab in the middle of her one month tour of the US before returning to the UK, so time was not on my side. She was literally preparing to leave for San Francisco to perform the following night when she agreed to answer a few questions. We discussed an array of subjects of other people’s music to her take on her own music. She also informed me of her dislike of “labels” on gays and heterosexuals. Just because her first solo outing was called Diva, she was anything but.

Considering you have had an album entitled Diva, do you think of yourself as a diva? If so, what does the word “diva” mean to you?

“Diva” was actually intended to be a rather cryptic choice of title for my first solo outing. It was humorously aimed at being the antithesis of my previous incarnation as the perceived androgynous half of a duo in the Eurythmics. So, in a sense, I wasn’t taking myself wholly seriously, because I’m not the sort of person who could ever take the “diva” role for real. However, having said that after performing songs solidly for almost two hours every night to these amazingly responsive audiences across America, it might seem to some that I’m rapidly turning into one, so pass me a feather boa quick before I turn back into a normal person! (Laughing)

You have so many successful hits in your vast catalogue, are there any particular songs that have extra special meaning to you?

Well, there is a wonderful catalogue of songs to choose from, which is very satisfying, because it means that they’ve really stood the test of time. There are some that do stand out for me because they always feel totally fresh and challenging each time I perform them. Especially “Cold,” “Here Comes The Rain Again,” “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” “You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart,” “Why,” “Little Bird” and “Walkin’ On Broken Glass.”

When you write, do you prefer to write solo or collaborate?

When I write at source (as a solo artist), it’s always on my own. That’s when I come up with the chord progressions, accompanying melodies and lyrics, etc. However, when I start to move into the production stage, I really love to collaborate.

Are there any songs on Bare that are particularly special, more personal than others?

They are all special to me. It would be very hard to single one out against the rest, however if forced to make a short selection, I would have to choose “Pavement Cracks,” “Honestly,” Wonderful” and “A Thousand Beautiful Things.”

You have a deeply devoted gay following. What are your feelings about that?

With regards to people who like making music, I make no distinction between gay and heterosexuals. Why should there be one? These words are just labels to me. Anyone and everyone has the capacity to respond to music. It’s a gender free, race free, culture free zone. Reaching beyond those perceived divides. The power of music is a connective force.

Who do you like to listen to when you’re relaxing - Do you have a favorite female vocalist?

I listen to Bob Marley a lot, because he never fails to bring you to the spot. Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it! (Laughs). But seriously folks, there a quite a few special women out there that I like to listen to including Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, India.Arie, Ashanti, Missy Elliott, Ms. Dynamite…It’s hard to bring it down to one.

If you had to choose your favorite Eurythmics album or one of your solo albums, what would it be?

I never listen to any of the albums because it’s like something I’ve done. But off the top of my head, I guess I’d probably say Savage. It’s more darkly left field. Although having said that, I like the more upbeat songs as well. I’ve only written two solo albums. Medusa was my covers piece. Obviously the latest one, Bare, is very relevant to me right now, as it’s just out of the oven, so to speak.

© 2003 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.