Another chance to listen to the singer-songwriter speaking to Kirsty Young in 2008. Her extraordinary voice has captivated us for decades and, as one half of the group Eurythmics and as a solo artist, she's sold tens of millions of records and won fistfuls of awards. As a teenager, her musical ability was her passport out of her home town of Aberdeen. At that point, a career as a flautist beckoned: but, after studying in London, she felt she could never make her mark as a classical musician. It was a chance encounter with aspiring pop-star Dave Stewart that set her on an entirely different path. For much of the 1980s, all her creative energy went into making music. But when her children were born, she says, her priorities shifted. Now she devotes much of her time and energy to supporting different humanitarian causes. She says: "I need to find meaning in my life to make me happy; and that's been an ongoing struggle." Favourite track: I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin Book: Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Luxury: Suncream
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to desert island discs, we're currently taking a break, and so we thought it to be a good opportunity to showcase some of the best additions from our extensive treasure chest. We hope you enjoy them. This is the baby say hello on christie, young, and this is a pod cost from the desert island discs archive for rights reasons we ve had to shorten the music. The programme was originally broadcast in two thousand and eight I cast away this week is Annie lennox as a pop star she has seen phenomenal success. Extra, We voice in stock glamour blaze a trail through the eighties when, as one half of the group, erasmus, she coloured and performed his after hit after going it alone. She has soared. Justice high
three grammy's six brits and an oscar provide convenient shorthand to sum up her solar achievements to date, yet it seems fame fortune the adoration of millions isn't quite enough much of her an energy these days is devoted not just to her to teenage daughters but a clutch of humanity. erin causes from live it. To amnesty international. She says. need to find meaning in my life to make me happy, and that has been an ongoing struggle. Any lennox you once described yourself. This is an intriguing phrase as an elegant survivor, I wonder what you mean you can survive not an interesting question to love me with. First of all, an elegant survivor, yeah. I think Sometimes you know it's very interesting when you are someone in the public eye, you have to accept that
we'll be a certain erosion of your own sort of private and what would normally people would consider to be private, and then I don't know why I said the word elegant, but perhaps I was trying to get the balance back in a pool that bought for myself, because you know the press will inevitably- and I don't blame them for this- they will look for the most kind of well if they can get lurid He will he owed with me. I haven't been looted, but it you know, whenever ever spins things to do with no depression or get the kind of things that I have been occasionally times with, which is fine, because I do get depressed and I have people do get depressed, but I did feel that I'm have to close to little bit back of the labeling. The has been put on me from time to time. Did you wish sometimes that you haven't been quite his honest as you find yourself being shown us now. I dont mind being honest. You know I just have to be myself, it doesn't matter so People have said, I'm incredibly private person. I don't think
so incredibly private. I just think I'm normal, I'm very happy to be honest, but there are certain boundaries that I need to protect. It was twenty five years ago, then, with europe makes that you shot into people's consciousness. I'm thinking of that deep orange buzz cuts the manage since the very look? It's Mackey are the make up and it was the time of mtv. It was a time when your image was just seared on, certainly the teenage consciousness and probably beyond, and it was sweet dreams was the first because it was a very big hasten america. A big hit here too. Can you remember how it felt at the time? Yes, of course I do remember that, and yet it seems like a parallel existence. Now it's so funny, But you know, if you see a snapshot of yourself when you were a teenager or a child, something so familiar to you and yet come contrasted with
who you are now it doesnt bear the faintest resemblance. You know. Can you decide this? This is maybe not, described and wondering who you were then. If you say you look at that person and you can remember her she's still in there somewhere, who were then will it was before our children's long term before her children, and I think that having children was a huge turning point, in my world, in my whole life and the whole way that I see the planet. I was very focused on music making. I wanted to be part of making great music up that that was always the the main motivation is so much to talk, but I want to ask you just briefly before we come to your first track unnoticed. Looking all the tracks in a bunch here, you ate pieces of music that none of them. With the exceptions from no and almost all of them off from before when you started making. Why is that I will vote? You know one of the reasons why there's nothing really from now is because I mean I
this consciously, but at a certain unconscious level, one identifies with music, the stew it the signs that the whole identity of music was hugely important to me. And now I've in my years of wisdom, define solid wisdom. You know now that I've been through so much in life and I'm extraordinarily evolved I no longer need better these songs that we're going to listen to the words are in my head. The arrangements are in mind that my hand. You know from the beginning, to the and I know the songs, the part of me music, after all, is so personal and people hear music. Love it. They identify with it the person
eyes and it becomes a part of them, and that is the great potentiality that that music? Her so tell me about your fast track than today. When I hear this chart, I go to a place in our dean, call the beach boulevard. I remember walking down the street and singing not some over and over and over again, it's a classic it very hard to put into words, but that sadness that melancholy and it's a story about a person's life, and somehow I simply identify with this guy driving these long distances across a landscape that do it settled it from here, the town and drive. Main role.
staying in the world, glenn Campbell and wichita alignment and unfortunately, people were not treated as I was there to you, singing mass, and you said so intriguing to me that the easing learned to sing. That's what you were doing when you were so that sounds like a definitely, I think, I'm I was entreat with music and songs and I would just learn them learn them, learn them, and here the phrasing but not because I was thinking I was gonna, be seen that wasn't the point. I was just intrigues and It is what it is to be a singer that you learn all this, but then you have to imbibe and has to be something
it's gotta be in your bone marrow, because, if you're thinking too much about you performance, it becomes monitored and stilted. It's just something that you do not actually, and what about this we lassie in aberdeen man I mean: do you an only child at what? What did you do apart from seeing along the trail is lots of starting entered because of the fact that I was unknown nature? There was so much time to kill their so much time kill so I just had to spend a lot of time alone. Will you away anyway? You don't send me as though you were lonely. You are happy, I wasn't unhappy, but there is a melancholy and there is a loneliness in it. I realized I felt lonely whence it came down to london, but as a wee girl you you knew that worked in the shower. Yeah you did. Your mother was a cook issue. What she actually she was a cook, but then she gave everything. Often she just became a housewife. You know, May we lived in a tenement how so we had a little outside washing?
an area where you'd lose this big tanks. boiling water and used to scrub everything and it was calmly engineers yeah did it through the mangle yeah put it through the mongol, isn't it out to dry roman kitchen, yet termed tenement house and the kitchen was my mother and father is better which was the sitting room, which was the dining room, which was everything in a lot of them, went on in that room and then the front room must rise to sleep, but that was the best room, so that was kept for when they would have some visitors and did they have visitors was earlier today People would come what about school years and it was Aberdeen high school for girls at signs terribly palmer was. It has brought yes terribly proper. What my learning and courtesy was the motto I we had the courtesy to the teacher every morning and
afternoon. Those were the days year sunday to what was the uniform ah well and summer time. It was panama hearts and is very formal. We had those old fashioned navy tunics, you know. When did you begin to be musical? When did you take piano lessons when I was seven someone said? Would I like to have piano lessons at school in and I wondered to have them? Do it very much? Did you have to pay extra for a four pounds, a term, but you know that time we didn't have much money to go around in it and it was looked on us in. Oh, that's a little but you're getting something extremely on these music lessons, and you see I think lotta that generation life is tough and there was poverty and you know, hardship and was their music at home, did your pants playing well, I'm ever there was a review, the wireless. At some point. We had a little done set reykir player, you know with a little pink plastic covering and things
my father was musical and he loved to sing and his family lapsing into what they were inquires and things, and then, when he was here, Man, he picked up the bagpipes. Did he practice I did and now in the inside some noise is allowed me. Did you enjoy loved him? I love listening to tell me about your next year. Which is not a pipe music into now? What each isn't next? Well, you know the beatles absent lear intrinsically part of my life and have chosen Pailin, because I think it's got all the characteristics of a of everything that the beatles had to? four and still offer and the most incredible of classic. We, many
the beatles and pin mean I'm wondering around about that time, and did you feel the flavor of the sixties. Did you, mrs sniff of swearing earlier very soon it so funny how things trouble like that, that music kind of informed you that things are changing, I mean there was no such thing as a team. when you appeals working hours and in fact my father had said that to me several times that he never had a youth, and that made me feel very sad, and so he must have. Presumably, let's go unease about fourteen on strict my my followers very rigorous, about the work ethic. He was
those man that was this very kind of righteous. You know what was that tricky for him than to watch you go into your teenage years in and be a teenage in the sixties. There were also a possibility is open to you. I think that was the huge generation gap is probably the biggest generation gap of all time. So did you have a hard time with each other definitely very difficult overboard nothing. It's just you know my father was an eye. Understandably, you know very protective of me, as is only daughter in, and it was all about boundaries really about what I was allowed to do. My wasn't alone are doing, and I kind of didn't really appreciate being told what I had to do, and I mean you know. I wasn't like a bad cater anything like that, but I was desperate just to have my own independence, To be honest with you, so you were in a family where there was nobody else that you could compete. Also, let it is wrong in the air was the focus here and you are also in a school where there were a lot of rules and regulations
until emma, so it doesn't sign what you are having a great time now I hated it hated it. Did you hate your teenage years? I hated it began. Oh, I thought london was where it was. You know what I wanted to go to london. That was a we'll talk about it. Just momentum but your next choice. Well, the reason why I went to london and my passport out of aberdeen million away was that I got a place at the wrong academy. Music to study flute. I loved flute ice to play. An orchestra is a little chamber on songs and I thought I was a pretty good, flew player and then god help me and there came to london and realize I was you know completely average and there were lots of other kids that were phenomenal flute players and I was never going to reach that kind of peak of performance, and that was a bit of a dilemma for me, because
that was the thing that I had achieved and then it wasn't gonna happen and I didn't know what the altar is there going to be, and I actually kindly the next piece is sittings in it.
Exquisitely played by james Galway.
teams, golden cleaned, abysses ceilings and peace. You yourself say any linux that you can play all you haven't, picks up the fuckin money using lose you. It was your passport aberdeen you attended, goin academy of music and very quickly realized. It wasn't, for you know, was terrible really. I felt like a complete fraud and I spent three years there. I thought why, because it didn't interests me, and I was a boiling every single history of music lecture, and I mean I didn't go to one of them. I was the worst student ever ever. What were you doing instead? Well, myself, some part time jobs. Actually, you know, because I have no money. I mean the ground was so tiny nice to live on three pounds a week and it was seen. It was limited where europeans contributing to any of those known I used to do it almost
and I'm wondering what your parents made if you're going to london, I think it just to pull them really about. No, no, that's not true. I think if they had none, more about me, they would have interpol. You know what they were proud of me because It was an achievement, certainly to go to the academy of I think they didn't really know what is going on with me I didn't really know myself. Did they give you any advice for the big bad city? Well, really. I mean you know, look right and left what before they that's the best, because the best advice I give you really in london and so there you were not really attending classes, certainly avoiding classes. You really hated my one and, as we all know, what any linux looks like. Of course we ve lived with your image of the last twenty five years. What did you look like, then? When you were a student I was quite shy and am quite mousy. I think I couldn't afford close very easily and there were these fantastic thrift stores in scotland where you could buy.
ladys kind of like what you know or maybe that had died and they had fabulous kind of shoes and jacket and blood and dressed in everything. And you know you could you could pick up a protesting jacket for about two shillings, honest and that was that does pre decibels asian folks, god that's really telling and why you singing in your ratings. we also have sung to myself with We are, as you know, looking back, it's really hard to think of her of a more when I I realise that my voice was actually really good, but I wish I could tell you that there was a moment when I thought, but there must have. Cuz. I do remember going infinite addition for something once that was honoured. item melody maker and they said to me your voice. Some like and I said, our prospects, Instead, we wonder and John Mitchell and I was being serious how ridiculous under
and they said oh well, you must be good, then did you get it? I bet you death right. Tell me what you next piece of music. Then we're gonna play hello, my shoe by traffic and why It is in this. It's really sums up the time that kind of exotic thing that I think I thought london would be. But maybe never really was, at that time, traffic,
she's so any lennox, you met this chapter. Panicle Dave Stuart. I read that in the coming year, I guess and and of course he went on to form europe makes you have spoken, and certainly journalists have written exhaustively about. How are you but just just briefly, to remind people that is exhausting is an arm exhausted by myself. You will await us in a coffee. He came in ass, a customer there. You go it s enough as it that's the story Did you instantly knew that you had met somebody who was who was talking your language? I did and that's a very rare occurrence and when we formed The first bond was the tourists and are the tourists made three hours and it was not, Why sometimes I refer to that part of my life as a rehearsal for what was to come, because I a lot of expertise. Retool across amerika we towards europe and Australia. We had a little bit six, and I really learn a lot so the tears broke up Israel.
Lots of tat and you formulas mix and you knew it That point you you're sort of honed by that yes in worms about you, wanted it very much so very sue and at that point synthesizers became affordable and available. in stores underway These new things called John machines. and the whole. Since the sound of the eighties came out, and by this stage you Dave had gone out with each other. You broken up by the time you rhythmic start here. We will we just just about broke up about that time, which is in a very difficult because we both that's funny. I think we knew that wasn't gonna work out as a partnership, but as a musical relationship. There was never any question that we would be a part that is an untypical maturity for people of that Eightam in them.
It was so important. It supersede an absolutely. What did your parents make of this extreme and sudden fame? Well, I think it's hard for anyone to handle a little bit concerned means, on the one hand, proud you know, and on the other like what is this when they came to see us perform in answer- and they saw audiences- really responded to the music. I know that there were hugely proud of it. Tell me about inexpensive musically. Ah, this is probably one of my first. eve sums of all time ever and ever I adore everything franklin's voice and the arrangements and songwriting scales of bert backer artists, just phenomenal real here's, a special and right for the big the song it just takes you into the special police that it is
man away in my alarm, a refill and I say a little pray and of course you saying sisters are doing themselves. What was the expert amazing? Actually we went to Detroit because an rita doesnt, really like to travel, and she was sexually shy and quiet quite withdrawn. Will you nervous disinvestment, no I wasn't nervous assisting with her because written the song, and I thought it's fine. Looking back at me,
I really should have been more nervous, but, curiously enough, I wasn't. Your voice has been described by saw your music industry colleagues as the greatest white soul. Singer alive was very nice of them say that there are? Of course, there is all of the history that comes from the black sourcing as male and female, the history of their race, the history of the generations, the struggles that have gone before in your voice. What do you think it is that's bringing out the sole because their struggles and have not been used or else, but I think the human condition is the same, no matter what it doesn't matter, the color of your skin, you know which school you into the human
experiences pretty much boils down to the same thing and then music cuts to all cultures and an all boundaries, and what about the intensity? Because he you have. You have the image of being an intense person. Your clearly somebody who so quick to laughing have a sense of humor, but within those songs there is- often times a loss of paying a lot of intensity appeared in there. I dont think that people live pain, free lives, I don't know if it's chicken- or I don't know of the pain- has to come first and then you can. You have to be in pain before you. Something of any value. I'm not sure about that. To be honest with you, but whatever It's almost let your potter and that's the key that you use. You know this. Is this a spiritual stuff? Really? Can I ask you by the way you look coming? You're you're, a strikingly beautiful woman, and you have used your image over the years
to promote your music and you seem to have almost sort of relish stance, and yet you have not done what are the few other women earn? Your position have done who have decided to make their beauty their obsession. I mean you're sitting there. it doesn't look to me as if you win lots of make up. You see. No, I really everywhere lots of mecca. How have you managed to resist that, given that your image has been such a central part of who you have been to the public gosh? I did say to you earlier on having children was a huge learning curve for me, confront vey transformational, part of my world, so getting older that's, you know, you start to value things like well. Do you have health? I mean both. My parents died of cancer, so I saw that I saw a lot of things that made me change my perspective. You know youth beauty, that's all fine,
but you know what really counts in the world is something that is not about that. Just the presentation is interesting. You referred to your team I'm taking you beyond what was there before her life before your children seems a very very long time away, you ve got your shovel still born and you have you ve had the courage to speak about that. How much did that changes? A person had him an immense impact on my immense and bottlenecks, and what did it make you think that it might you want to turn your back onto the world. You know not at all. If we realise that we are all in all the human condition is immensely a fragile and strong. At the same time, maybe you know you
Always have the polarities that coexist so and at the same time that do you know I lost my son. You know the hundreds of thousands of people died in her in a village somewhere in a remote part of turkey after an earthquake and, curiously enough, I just felt so identify with those people, because I saw a wow, This is all around me. You know it's. It's informed me that my real, very painful, difficult, personal experience and loss its heart, to put it into words, but it made me realize that life julius temporary. You know, and when I hear about other p, tragedies and losses. I saw so saw empathize and so so so identify with them turnover, inexpensive, musical, we're going to listen to the blue nile. Now they are annexed, new phenomena and the people that love the blue nile will
Today, because we because we're almost like a little cult, we wait for years for blue nile records to come, and occasionally they do among the to play m. I walk across the rooftops. Rule blue nile and a walk across the rooftops, so any limits in nineteen. Eighty, eight man, you maybe is ready filmmaker early footmen and you have to doctors, lula and tell it and once they were born. I read at the time that you said you you wanted to go inside and closed the door,
yeah. You wanted to stop what and to have a private experience of motherhood did it work yeah it David. I mean it turkey is in it because if you well known as difficult to show up at the crash encroach end and for people not to recognize and did you do that I do his yeah. I did that there's a new ways of having kids and humming families and as a no divorce single. their, which I am really. I appreciate the incredible so devotion that women in particular ends on dad's as well dad's, it's it's hard for dancing, I think, sometimes, We forget that sometimes very very much want to be with their kids, and sometimes they are prevented from getting access to the kids to your minds broke up after twelve years and an you wrote the album bear, which is, as I was suddenly things through the legs of that its raw stuff
will you always sure I mean I'm sure you would text me that you had to write it where you always show you wanted to release it, took to make those things public But to me when I write, you know it saw super specific and, I think, to be frank, the choose the right about a more about my own internalized contradictions and struggles and confusions and whatever whatever yearnings, and they are part of all of us, I mean Anyone who writes books or makes muse sako songs. You know they have to take the material from somewhere, and what about your teenage is given that you had your own version of teenage rebellion in aberdeen, others
years ago I mean: are you? Are you a lenient parent to you? Do they have to be almost certain time where certain things do they're here in a certain way now and you I dont, I'm not like that- I'm not lenient and I'm not strict. I try to draw that the balance between the two things big, I mean I've always brought. My kids are and the way to be their own p. they're, not an extension of me and therefore I will listen to them and respect what they have to say and give them space to be themselves They musical of inherited your voice. The boss, musical under my elder daughter, actually wants to she wants to develop as a classical singer, so we'll see she's only seventy she's got plenty of time. Tell me what you next piece of music
love the valley. I love all this kind of early music. I love cooper on and personnel and most sought and handle, and you know we're going to listen to winter from the four seasons because its exquisite yeah, it's quite explicit.
This movement of winter from Vivaldi. Four seasons played by makers barber with the berlin philharmonic conducted by herbert one. Getting on so spend your life being apparent and also pursuing your music? You went on to the end of last year S, yahoo toolbar. I do fine tuning. Next, for a long time, you wouldn't do here well I'd. I didn't want to do it when my kids were little because I just couldn't bear to be apart from them. You know you want so much to be all things to all people and its it's difficult cause. I feel
blind to give way over a hundred percent. Every night is very important that I give everything I can to the audience and to the situation, and you have to take care of you. With my voice in the songs of written over the years, there quite challenging technically to sing so you you to be a very good voice to teasingly songs, especially for one and a half hours. You know, and what about mentioned in the introduction that humanitarian work that you do you you played a blinder live. Eighteen, you help those tens of thousands of people in the palm of your hand. You have spoken for The international form, I'm in many many various different causes. Why do you bother doing that? Well, first of all, a very often invited to do those things, and I think that music is a wonderful platform for the focus
of issues that are over and beyond our immediate personal interest. One of my passions is say: is the issue of the hiv aids pandemic in south africa? Be working on this for several years now, and I start my own campaign, called sing and I'm trying to raise awareness about the issue? is very often sidelined used. This illuminating word about your father's character. You said the righteousness that that he had. I wouldn't imagine that you think you have too much in common with your father, but I'm I'm wondering if that's one of the things you might have in common with. I think I think we definitely would have shared some kind of
sense of injustice in the world. We can distribute coca cola all around the world, but we can't seem to get medication to save a child from something as simple as diarrhea, and I think that that is wrong. You know you have a choice. You either get involved with it with an issue or you walk away from it. I think it is a human rights issue and I feel very passionately about human rights. Come about your final piece of music when okay well, this is just a classic This is just this is perfect. This is oughta shredding doc. The bay I mean that's another, one of my all time, favorite songs and then yeah you, I see a great deal more about you just have to put it on quick no more. Some out of the car watching the ships
in what way sit known got watching tat Yes, his reading and the dock of the bay. So I'm going to give you the bible in the complete works of shakespeare, Annie, lennox and you can take one of their booth along with you. What would that be as well as yes. Yes, we ve never go. I've never even got my head, the bible that shakespeare. Let me think, oh, I know I'm gonna eckart tolls power of now just to get me in the moon, just so I dont stress. Well, I'm on our like get me off. Ok, you may have that and your light a luxury to what would you luxury be? Will it have to be some green, like really top of the range some cream with a high?
sb. I factor like a fifty, are really yeah hundreds or something like that, because I got you easily burning, scant good, scottish and them, if you had to say just one of these eight records, which one would it be, it's gotta be rid of ether franklin that she makes it to the top any lennox. Thank you very much for letting us here desert island discs. Thank you, They lovely you ve, been listening to a portal from the desert island. Despite calls for more put caused, please visit bbc dot, co. Uk slash radio
This is the bbc. I am salmon king and before you go. I just wanted to tell you about a new package from myself and plan, as it is called under the weather and in its which orange by a range of experts to explore some of what is most interesting and challenging questions. Should we stumping worried about the holding the ozone layer is a big question? There's all sorts of approaches to come up with a czech need that could call the planet that's under the weather and you can find it. Where have you found this.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-11.