Interview with Annie from the Denver Post
The gaps between Annie Lennox’s recordings have seemed like lifetimes—just three solo albums of original material in 15 years. But at 52, the ex-Eurythmic and Scottish mother of two is back with a new album, stronger vocals than ever and—as indicated by the album’s title, Songs of Mass Destruction—a few choice words about where the world is headed. And although her days of playing with androgyny are behind her, she still thinks about gender: For the feminist anthem "Sing," Lennox recruited 23 top all-women singers, ranging from Madonna to Shakira to Pink. Speaking by phone, the artist contemplated inequality, human suffering, materialism and other minor matters…..
The lady is a champ
On her latest album, it’s Annie Lennox versus the state of the world.
You said recently, "I’m at my own cutting edge." Why do you feel that way now?
Perhaps it comes with having a little bit more confidence than I had before. Maybe it comes with maturity. I do have two teenage daughters now, and there’s a whole change that comes in life from having babies come into the world. Even though I’m still baffled by existence, in my twenties it was even more baffling.
Yet in the ’80s, you exuded so much confidence.
But this is more of an inner confidence. This is more about my own sense of being grounded. Knowing my artistry, knowing where I lie as a woman, where I lie as an artist, where I lie socially. Or where I stand rather than lie. Stand is a far more applicable word.
Speaking of taking a stand: You’ve said about Songs of Mass Destruction, "It’s a dark album, but the world is a dark place.
What is happening in 2007 is no different than what was happening in 1007. Humankind seems to have an enormous capacity for savagery, for brutality, for lack of empathy, for lack of compassion. We go into a warlike state quite easily, whether it be road rage or dropping a bomb on a block of flats in another part of the world. We don’t seem to have each other’s best interest at heart. Here we are in a world that is so divided. We have all these fabulous shops on the high streets, these huge corporate chains spreading across the globe. Then you go to another part of the globe and you see, as I have done directly with my own eyes, people who are simply dying because they are so chronically poor that they can’t get the right kind of nourishment, they can’t get the right kind of medication and treatment, they can’t get clean running water. The whole thing is nuts, completely.
That begs the question, can an album like this prompt any change?
Well, you know, I’m just one person. I have a calling in my soul, if you like, to try to make my life in some way worthwhile. What is the value of my existence? I’m not a gung-ho, happy-clappy, evangelistic asshole, but at the same time, I feel that at least by expressing my outrage, my abhorrence, my shock, my frustration, my disappointment, that voice can register with other people. What I’m basically saying is, "Do you feel like this, too?"
On your last tour with the Eurythmics, you gave the profits to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Are you doing something similar with this tour?
I won’t be having any profits on this tour because I’ll be lucky if it breaks even, sadly. [Laughs] It’s possible that I might talk a little bit about activism. I don’t want to preach, I don’t want to soapbox it, I don’t want to bat people on the head and I certainly don’t want to bore anyone. On the other hand, I do want to inspire people.
For the track "Sing," you gathered 23 female vocalists, like Faith Hill, Gladys Knight, KT Tunstall. How’d you decide who to pick?
Off the top of my head I just wrote a wish list and sent out letters with a mission statement on them. So it came to the 23 and I thought, bloody hell, that’s a pretty good group.
After 25 years, are you impervious to criticism?
If someone says something unpleasant, I can’t say it doesn’t smart a bit. It always does. Someone can take a really nasty swipe if they want because it kind of feels powerful for a person to write in a paper and get that thing out there. I always look at [the writer’s] picture if there’s a picture accompanying it and I’m like, Okay, I get it, you’re a wimp. I understand why you need to do that. Having said that, I’m critical of people, I just don’t put it down in print. I wouldn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, you know?
Annie Lennox croons at the Cadillac Palace Theatre Friday 19