Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Annie (Lennox)!


Merry Christmas! And it is my great pleasure to wish a Merry Christmas and a happy birthday (how economical) to one of my absolute favorite singers, song writers, and performers, Ms Annie Lennox!
Ann Griselda Lennox was born in Torry, Aberdeen, Scotland. Torry is a community within the city of Aberdeen, which itself is inside Scotland, which itself is part of Great Britain. Torry of course, lies on the south bank of the River Dee.
Her dad worked in a shipyard, and her mom was apparently a cook until she became a full time housewife. They noticed Ann's interests in music by the age of 3. The family didn't have a great deal of money, but Annie was still given piano lessons from age 7 on. She liked to sing along to popular music of the time, especially the Beatles, as did I. She attended Aberdeen High School for Girls, now the Harlow Academy. In 1964 she entered a talent contest at a holiday camp (a camp designed to provide affordable holidays for ordinary British families) and sang the Scottish folk song "Mairi's Wedding," and won second place. This was a portent of things to come.
Annie won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the 70's where she studied the flute and classical music for 3 years, working part-time jobs for extra money. "I have had to work as a waitress, barmaid, and shop assistant to keep me when not in musical work."
She began playing in bands at this time. Between 1977 and 1980 she was the lead singer in the band The Tourists, which was the first time she worked with Dave Stewart (no relation to Jon). They got into a relationship, but ended that before forming The Eurythmics in 1980.
The Eurythmics was classified as a synthpop duo, meaning the use of a synthesizer was the primary musical instrument used, and the band consisted of two people, Annie and Stewart. Dave played the synthesizer, Annie sang the songs (similar to a favorite contemporary band of mine, Venus Hum, check'em out sometime).
Annie became a female David Bowie in the early years, dressing in suits and men's clothing, her hair cut extremely short, and her stage presence was magnetic.
The Eurythmics released a string of hits during the 80s, their breakthrough signature song being 1983's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," which is when I first became aware of them, that song topping the charts in the U.S.
Some of my other favorite songs of that band include "Missionary Man," and especially the two songs and videos of "Would I Lie to You?" and "I Need a Man" (which I played for my girlfriend at the time, Julie, a demur lady if ever there was one, who simply rolled up her eyes as she took in Annie's commanding vocals demanding male attention).
Annie and Dave went their separate ways in 1990. I don't know why. It is said they didn't speak to each other until 1997.
However, Annie continued writing songs and experienced a hugely successful solo career, with the albums "Diva" (my favorite songs being "Why," and "Primitive," the latter song being one of the few I'd like to hear while on my deathbed.
This was her first solo effort and the album entered the UK album chart at no.1 and has since sold over 1.2 million copies in the UK alone (2,700,000 in the U.S.), being certified quadruple platinum), and 1995's "Medusa," which consisted completely of cover songs (songs by other artists), my favorites being "Take Me to the River," "A Whiter Shade of Pale," and Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down." The album has since achieved double platinum status in both the U.K. and the U.S).
Following the death of a mutual friend, Annie reunited with Dave Stewart and began playing and writing songs with him resulting in the final Eurythmics album (to date), "Peace." The subsequent concert tour was completed, with the profits going to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. They ultimately broke up in 2005 having released a compilation album that year.
Annie has made two other solo albums, "Bare," and "Songs of Mass Destruction," which I'm not very familiar with, probably because I don't listen to the radio very much anymore (except talk radio), and missed their release. Last year she released "The Annie Lennox Collection," a greatest hits kind of deal, and just last month "A Christmas Cornucopia," was put out, a mixture of traditional Christmas songs, with one original, "Universal Child," which I've not heard yet.
Annie's an Academy Award winner, for Best Song, "Into the West," from the film "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which she co-wrote with screenwriter Fran Walsh and composer Howard Shore.
She has always been involved in political activism and charity work, some of the causes she has worked for being AIDS awareness, anti war activities, and humanitarian causes, among many, many others.
She has two daughters, Lola and Tali. She is exceptionally interested in Buddhism (as am I), has won more Brit (British Phonographic Industry) Awards than any other female artist, and as of 2009, has sold over 80 million albums.
There's so much more I could say about Annie, it would fill a book. But I can say this, all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her continued good fortune and health for her and her family, and a very Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!
Happy Birthday Annie!

1 comment:

  1. Annie is still "fine as wine".