10 Albums That Changed My Life: Nancy Wilson

Guitarist Nancy Wilson. Photo by Jeff Hahne/Getty Images.

Intro by Patrick Prince; Compiled by Ivor Levene

Nancy Wilson gained her fame as the lead guitarist of the classic rock band, Heart. With Nancy and her mega-vocalist sister Ann Wilson at the helm, Heart quickly ascended to rock ‘n’ roll hierarchy.

Recently, Nancy became involved in a new project: Roadcase Royale. Teaming up with the talents of Liv Warfield of Prince’s New Power Generation, Nancy Wilson now has a promising band to help lead. Roadcase Royale’s debut album, First Things First (released in September via Loud & Proud Records), had more than its share of critical acclaim.

“I was looking for a brand-new garden.” Wilson told Goldmine last year. “I’ve been working in the same garden with Heart since I was 19 or so. I sensed that Ann was moving in her own direction… and I was looking into moving into my own new direction.”

No matter which musical direction Nancy Wilson chooses, she will remain a rock ‘n’ roll treasure. And here are the 10 albums that led her to a musical career.


The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper descended like a Technicolor epic on an otherwise black and white world. Impossibly beautiful and maybe the pure distilled essence of the magic spell The Beatles cast over the whole world. In every nook and cranny of this masterpiece the songs are stories we all know. Songs speaking the language that our mind-expanding brains were ready to receive.


The Beatles, Revolver

The first time I dropped the needle on Revolver it was like being let in through a secret backstage door where the recording session was going on. The sound of this record was smashed into the grooves so deep it felt physically mind-altering. You could feel the air move. You could feel their collective consciousness, leaning toward new heights of greatness.



Steely Dan, Gaucho

There are rock bands and then there’s Steely Dan. With a heavy Jersey accent and the highly skilled jazz-rock inventions of their songs, they created a new genre all their own. Gaucho is the album that depicts the blending of their East Coast studio cat swagger with West Coast scene and hubris. Needing no video footage, these songs are elaborately visual.


The Beatles, Abbey Road

This album’s a blessing and a saving grace that bridged the generation gap in my family. There actually was a joint passed around my family dinner table as we all listened to Abbey Road together. It was certainly an odd feeling to be high with your mom and dad though. I would have normally been feeling rather guilty. But The Beatles had created an open, loving atmosphere.


Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

I remember hearing Pink Floyd’s follow-up to The Dark Side of the Moon for the first time in a hotel room in Montreal. They’d announced on the TV\radio that the album would be unveiled in its entirety that night, at that time, and we were in position to absorb it thoroughly. This was the church of Floyd and the calling for our lives to come out into the light from that point forward.



Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Déjà Vu

This album contains the Holy Grail sound of the singer-songwriter hippy counterculture in late ‘60s California. Steeped in the folky harmonies from the previous era, this blend of rock jams with hard-hitting acoustics and poetry made a new cultural imprint full of depth and meaning. As a guitar player and songwriter, CSNY was a huge part of my growth.


Joni Mitchell, Hejira

Among Joni Mitchell’s masterful albums this one is my all-time favorite. This is such a peak moment in Joni’s many poetic confessional works. She paints rich interior landscapes blended with the sweeping travel log of her wanderlust. These songs are wonderful paintings much like her own paintings.


Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy

The summer I graduated from high school was the summer of Houses of the Holy. This album conjures up the exotic, misty magic of Old English lore blended with the riffs and beats of deep south American blues. Led Zeppelin is a big weather system moving over hill and dale. They shift and turn together like a school of fish through some deep, magical current.


Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection

The songwriting of Elton John and Bernie Taupin have given us so many incredible anthems and this album was a watershed moment in the musical world they created together. In my junior year of high school, under the covers with the Seattle rain falling outside, the headphones were my ride through this cinematic wonderland. The American West translated back through a poetic English lens.


Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand

When Raising Sand was released it was like a call to join forces with a new breed of beautiful. Located at the corner of ‘high lonesome’ roots and American/English rock. These haunting classics in the hands of Robert Plant and Allison Kraus’ voices create an intimate personal portrait of America. Such a brave unexpected concept to pair these songs with those two incredible singers.

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