10 Questions for Annie
A great interview with Annie from The Denver Post
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10 questions for singer Annie Lennox
By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
October 13, 2007
Songs of Mass Destruction is only the fourth solo album of originals from Annie Lennox in 15 years. But since Bare came out in 2003, by the singer’s standards, she’s on a roll. The new album’s title applies to the global views she takes on some of the songs and also applies to some of the searing, painful, personal songs on the disc.
A highlight is Sing, a charity anthem for women that she augments with 23 other female singers, including Madonna, Faith Hill, Celine Dion and Gladys Knight. She spoke with the Rocky’s popular music critic Mark Brown during rehearsals for her tour, which on Tuesday comes to Macky Auditorium in Boulder.
1 With this album coming fairly quickly, is this a reflection of your ability to pay more attention to your art as your personal life has changed?
Yeah. My first daughter was born in 1990 and I wanted to keep involved as much as I could. I sort of ask myself: What have I been doing the past 15 years? I’ve been involved in so many things. I think I’ll have to look at my timeline so you don’t think I’ve been sunning on the beach.
2 So many artists I talk to need that time to recharge anyway and break away from that album/tour/album/ tour rut.
I’m curious about that. Some people seem to love that thing of being the jack-in-the-box. Back on the bus, back on the airplane, hotel room. I’ve always found that fairly arduous.
3 Despite your distinctive looks, does leading that normal life make you less of a target for paparazzi?
I was just talking about that. The price of being a well-known music- maker – nowadays they call it ‘celebrity,’ which makes my skin crawl – the price is that part of your anonymity is kinda lost. I don’t want that attention, and I don’t go chasing it out of fame. It doesn’t strike me as anything anybody would want. But it seems to come with the territory.
4 Songs of Mass Destruction is such a perfect title for these songs. How did you come up with it?
If you think of it, the face of history has been changed over the past 4½ years in this country and in other countries because of that political decision to use the excuse of weapons of mass destruction to go into Iraq. It has taken us closer to a more dangerous world, in fact, than the one it was previously. The idea that we need to face the enemy . . . we have terrorism and we need to blast them and smoke them out. Personally, I think that way of resolving conflict is not successful. It’s highly expensive. It’s money that could have been used to improve many problems, poverty and what have you. Tragically, many young men’s lives have been lost. This situation in Iraq is abysmal, far worse than it ever was. I’m amazed that politicians have the power to lead the populace by the nose, to deceive them, mislead the public by the nose. It’s incredibly tragic.
5 How did this situation affect your songwriting? Love Is Blind is maybe the bleakest thing you’ve ever written.
It is bleak. At the same time, you’ll find that the music is my salvation. There’s this yearning and positivity for the connective-ness of the human spirit. Music for me has always been the catalyst to try to express myself, express my sorrow and pain and the beauty of life at the same time. They coexist.
6 From your hit Why to your new song Dark Road, there’s this yearning for human connection that isn’t achieved. Is that a theme for you?
It is the great tragedy of mankind in a way. We actually want to connect with each other in a loving way. Yet something went wrong in the Garden of Eden. We don’t quite make it. I’m not talking just the erotic, romantic love. I’m also talking about the compassionate, this love for humankind.
7 How did you get so many big names on the song Sing?
I did want to have one song on the album that had this focus of the African AIDS situation. A few years ago when I went to South Africa, I realized the tragedy. . . . I thought if I had a base of other internationally renowned female artists who could unite with me in this voice, it could be significant and get a wave of interest in the media. I had a list of people and sent a note to them personally to see if they’d respond or not. They were very, very positive. Ultimately I have 23 incredible artists singing on the chorus of the song.
8 This album and your last one, Bare, seem very personal and autobiographical. Should fans read that much into these songs?
I write them. They’re from my perspective. But they’re not specific about any individual. They’re always rather generic. I start off with one line and piece the whole thing together. People say, ‘Bare is your divorce album.’ There’s no question, obviously, unfortunately, of the background of my personal life. It comes from that place of tremendous difficulty. But I wouldn’t title it my divorce album specifically.
9 You’re out of your record deal after this record. Isn’t this the perfect time for an artist to be free as the record companies crumble?
I absolutely agree with that. Now it feels to me that anything I want to do creatively – I have so many more possibilities. I’ve been in a record contract for more than 25 years. I’m grateful, in a sense, but in actual fact it was a corporation that had the lion’s share of any record money in all kinds of ways. Not that I was motivated in making music for money initially, and it’s not my main interest at all. I always think, ‘Well, you’re lucky you’ve got a dollar in the bank, frankly.’ I’ve been through so many experiences, bad ones, rip-offs, betrayals, goodness knows.
10 You were involved in the reissue of the entire Eurythmics catalog. Did that change your view of what you’ve done?
For me it was a catalog of an extraordinary body of creative work – writing, recording, making videos, photographic statements, doing interviews, touring, rehearsing, with a lot of details, . . . the struggle to get there. . . . I think those songs are wonderful and I’m very proud of what we achieved.