Ann Wilson wrote the lyrics for Heart’s 1977 song ‘Barracuda’ in a reaction to a record company publicity stunt promotional campaign that had attempted to suggest that she and her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, were involved in a sexual relationship. She was pissed off, and you can feel her rage in this song, as this lascivious implication and the sleaze factor went against everything that they were trying to initiate. This took the emphasis off of their music and their message, they wanted to invent themselves as people who had ideas and abilities, not just cute girls and especially not sisters in an lesbian incest relationship. Ann said, “In our early twenties, we’d go into radio stations and they’d say, ‘We love your tits.’ It was irritating. And if they touched me – that was just the most icky, nauseating feeling ever. But in the ‘70s, if I’d have said to my manager, ‘Whatever DJ touched my shoulder in the wrong way … ,’ who would get fired? Me. Maybe not fired, but passed over; told ‘f— her’ or ‘what a bitch.’ I heard that tons.” Ann hopes the song will come in handy when women are thinking about what they want to do and not do.
‘Barracuda’ was released as the first single from the band’s second album, Little Queen. The song spent 20 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 11. The song focuses on rage towards a man, by using a porpoise to compare the slimy side of the music business to a dangerous predator fish. The Barracuda could be anyone from the local promotion man to the president of a record company. The songwriters for ‘Barracuda’ were Ann Wilson who sings lead vocals, drummer Michael Joseph Derosier, guitarist and backing vocalist Nancy Lamoureaux Wilson and guitarist and backing vocalist Roger Douglas Fisher. Nancy Wilson said that the guitar riff for ‘Barracuda’ was inspired by the riff from Nazareth’s cover of the Joni Mitchell song ‘This Flight Tonight’.
So this ain’t the end, I saw you again today
Had to turn my heart away
You smiled like the Sun, kisses for everyone
And tales, it never fails!
You lying so low in the weeds
Bet you gonna ambush me
You’d have me down, down, down to my knees
Wouldn’t you, Barracuda?
Back over time when we were all trying for free
Met up with porpoise and me
No right no wrong you’re selling a song, a name
If the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn it out to the wick
Aren’t you, Barracuda?
“Sell me sell you” the porpoise said
Dive down deep to save my head
You, I think you got the blues too.
All that night and all the next
Swam without looking back
Made for the western pools, silly fools!
Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme is Haunted/Magic/Mystery/Supernatural/Trick.