Mistral Wind

Album: Dog & Butterfly (1978)
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Songfacts®:

  • It's an album cut, but "Mistral Wind" is a very important song in the Heart catalog, a fan favorite played at many of their live shows. It's an epic, running 6:42 with a lyric that takes us on a magical adventure across the sea. "It's a Ulysses-type song," Nancy Wilson of Heart explained to Vulture. "It describes the journey of waiting for the wind to kick up in your life, and then it does, and then it takes you on more of a wild ride than you ever expected to be on - a life-threatening wild ride. And you're a changed person forever. You'll never look at life the same way again."
  • What is a "mistral wind"? It's no zephyr, but rather a cold, harsh wind specific to southern France and that area of the Mediterranean.
  • "Mistral Wind" is a song only Heart could pull off. Musically, it's centered on Nancy Wilson's acoustic guitar, which provides the main instrumentation for the first 2:10 as her sister Ann tells the story in a subtle, intimate vocal. But then when the full band comes in, Ann lets loose as the storm rages and she finds her strength.

    In terms of dynamics and lyrical depth, it's not far off from "Stairway To Heaven," which Ann and Nancy famously covered with members of Led Zeppelin in the audience.
  • Released as part of Heart's fourth album, Dog & Butterfly, "Mistral Wind" is a rare Heart song with four credited writers. Along with Ann and Nancy Wilson, it was written by Heart guitarist Roger Fisher along with Sue Ennis, a childhood friend of the Wilsons who often participated in their songwriting. It ended up being the last Heart album Fisher played on; for their next album, Bébé le Strange, the band went from six members to five with his departure.
  • Nancy Wilson pegs "Mistral Wind" as the best Heart song. "It really paints the whole picture of what Heart's capable of doing, because there's storytelling and poetry to it," she told Vulture. "There's a sweeping philosophical symbolism to it. It's also got this dissonance of a guitar intro, which gives way to a big storm that sweeps you through the song and leaves you out the other side of the song as if your life has changed. I realize that's a lot of highfalutin imagery, but I do think that's what the song achieves."

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