‘Success to me is what I feel when I‘ve written a song I like and which the audience likes to the extent of buying the record and coming to our concerts. Money. . . fame. . . these things are around you. but you have to keep doing what you want. Never fall into the obvious traps.‘
Annie Lennox should know. Her first band. The Tourists fell into them all; from predictable cover versions to bad management. resulting in the group being treated as a pale (no reference to Ms Lennox intended) Blondie soundalike in the late seventies. If at first you don‘t succeed. try again. But in 1981 , who‘d have bet on the chances of these two actually making it big, as in MASSIVE — double and triple platinum LP sales. world tours etc? Some RCA bigwig took a gamble. After all. they‘d started to build their studio and there were only two of them — though the wave ofduos (Wham. Tears for Fears) that later swept the British charts was then only a ripple (OMD. Soft Cell). A chance in a million paid off. A theory that the chanteuse doesn‘t exactly subscribe to: ‘I'm so proud ofour success. We worked so hard to get there. We‘ve achieved everything on our own terms which is fantastic. . . I‘d feel uncomfortable ifwe were just a novelty act.‘
Which is what they looked like being when. after the first, critically acclaimed LP. In The Garden — which didn‘t shift too many units, the UK suddenly became aware of this androgenous female equivalent of Boy George who glided her way through the video for their first hit, Love Is A Stranger. Annie‘s appearance. complete with sideburns in the promo clip for the follow up single. Who‘s That Girl— also memorable for its gallery of celebrity cameo appearances — further intrigued the British public.
. and completely baffled the Yanks. Then the snowball effect — 2 LPs. Sweet Dreams and Touch and enough hit singles. Here Comes The Rain Again and the uplifting Right By Your Side as well as the previous two kept their names on the playlist throughout ‘83.
Given the importance of visual elements in the duo‘s ascent. it wasn‘t surprising that they should decide to record a soundtrack for the film version of 1984. I‘m saying a not the as this LP was first commissioned. then rejected and after a lengthy court case. partially used in the film and released by Virgin; Sex Crime becoming a hit single to further rub salt into the wound. All this doesn‘t mean they have stopped being interested in filmmaking as they have plans for a Don't Look Back-style documentary of their current tour and a slapstick, black comedy in the Richard Lester/Beatles genre as well as being involved in TV Planet. an animation film supposedly inspired by The Magic Roundabout (and we thought he‘d given up drugsl). As for Annie, she‘s more comfortable in front of a camera and recently appeared in
Bringing a sell-out tour to Glasgow‘s SECC, the Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox talks to Pierre Perrone.
Hugh Hudson‘s Revolution. ‘It‘s broadened my interest in cinema further. Itwas my first part . . . more like a cameo, which is exactly what I wanted. It proved rather interesting; like travellingin time. But it was incredibly hard work. in fact, far too demanding considering what was left of my performance when the film reached the screen. Working conditions were very difficult; it was freezing cold. pissing down with rain and then Al Pacino fell ill and we had to wait for him to get better. . . the easiest bit was actually acting. However. I‘m not really that interested in a great cinema career. I‘d rather get some bit parts now and then. Small budgets seem more attractive to me. I like the DIY aspect and approach . . . it‘s close to what Eurythmics used to be like musically.‘
Indeed. some of the duo‘s early fans were rather miffed at the rockier direction taken on Be Yourself Tonight and in particular on the Would I Lie To You and Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves singles culled from it. Another worrying factor in ‘85 was the problems Ms Lennox was experiencing with her voice, which seriously affected their touring plans. Can she now take a strenuous concert tour'.) ‘I think so. I could have had an operation but it might have affected my voice sol decided not to take the chance and opted for a lengthy lay off. We had to take a lot of important decisions since it is so very costly to put a show on the road. Anyway, we‘ve never done too many gigs on the trot in order to maximise the takings. This time we‘re doing two concerts then having a day off and I‘m definitely not doing any interviews on the road. On stage, Janiece Jamison will contribute a lot. going into the top registers I don‘t want to risk trying night after night.‘
Even casual observers can‘t have failed to notice that the other halfof the duo is forever recording or producing other acts. You name them, Dave Stewart‘s worked with them. From Bob Dylan and Daryl Hall to Feargal Sharkey and the Ramones via Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Bob Geldof.
Does that worry her? ‘Not in the least. Dave started to work with
other people mainly because I had to
take a break from singing for a good while when my voice went and he found himselfwith nothing to do. He is an incredible catalyst which is why people are fighting over him at the moment. When he is around things suddenly seem to go more smoothly. He‘salways been like that . . . though. when I first met him he had this self destructive streak which has now. thank God. disappeared; mainly because success seems to have given him the means to bring his ideas to fruition better.‘
You have to admire the gall of the lady. glossing over the years Dave and she were lovers — his first words to her were. ‘will you marry me‘." — though there‘s obviously still a strong bond between them as her marriage to Radha Raman. a German disciple of Krishna. a couple of years back. fizzled out within a few months. This is a rather touchy subject and a cautious approach is recommended when it comes to asking Annie about her personal life. Love. however. seems to form the core towards which Eurythmics songs gravitate. The latest examples. Thorn In My Side and The Miracle ()fLove — the leading tracks from the Revenge collection. Does Ms Lennox agree? ‘We take song writing as it comes. I‘ve never started a song with the intention of talking about a specific subject — be it love. South Africa or any other topic. We follow our inspirations. which for me. often leads to love songs as I feel music is a vehicle which can touch the emotions. Anyway. there‘s a certain quality in the songs beyond their literal meaning. Love. hate. feelings in general are things I‘m interested in that we can all relate to. Also. I enjoy playing with words. using them as triggers to lead on to something else. I like symbols which people will interpret according to their own personality. Mind you. the process ofwriting is rather self indulgent. nearly abstract. although I don‘t like poetry. Pop songs really form our culture and when I look at other art forms they seem rather moribund.
People live with pop songs. It’s so simple, you can buy a tape. play it and your whole life changes. I‘m fascinated by this art form which really suits our times. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to express myself. this ability to write songs and also to have met someone who managed to bring it out ofme. I sometimes think I would never have done it on my own. In fact. I don‘t enjoy writing alone. I‘d rather work with Dave. I‘m not very good without him. whereas he‘s really a genius. . . he gives me such confidence.‘
In the light oer. Stewart‘s
involvement with other acts. is Ms Lennox planning any escapades away from the Eurythmics? ‘l‘m totally fulfilled by my role in the band. It‘s my main interest, even when we‘re not touring or recording. Anyway, our activities away from the group are always secondary to what Eurythmics is doing. But I keep my mind open. ifI was offered something really exciting. I‘d do it. though if I‘m asked to play a part again I‘d want it to be for my acting ability and not because I‘m a famous singer.‘
No doubt she never imagined when she played ﬂute in a chamber orchestra in her native Aberdeen or later while studying at the Royal Academy in London that it would come to this. ‘I‘m not really very patriotic about Scotland. I know I‘m not English, but then again I don‘t feel I belong to any one specific country. especially as we travel so much — which I enjoy as a lifestyle. I don‘t even have a home as such, come to think ofit. I haven‘t stayed in the same place for more than 6 weeks over the past two years. This lifestyle suits my personality. . . I just feel I‘m a human being. People pay far too much attention to where they and others come from, which I consider to be a way of limiting yourself. You have to experience things with an open mind and take a very broad view of the world.‘
Which isn‘t a bad philosophy at all. And the band — yes. Eurythmics are a fully fledged rock band now. fired by the thunderous drumming of former Blondie skinsman. Clem Burke at the back with Dave Stewart careering at the front like a demented Sheepdog — are certainly putting it to the test with a lengthy world tour which started in America over three months ago. Reports of their European dates have proved nearly unanimous in their praise for the vibrant presentation of a show. Intense and energetic. it contains suprises such as an acoustic Who’s That Girl and a reggae version of Right By YourSide, though nothing
comes close to the red bra sported by Annie for Would] Lie To You. So much for those who thought she was making a feminist statement with material like Girls Are Doing It For Th ems el ves .
Sweet dreams are made of this. The E urythmics appear at the S E CC. Glasgow on 28 and 29 November. Both concerts are sold out.
4The List 28 Nov - 11 Dec