all i want to do

World’s Worst Songs: Heart’s “All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You”

Hey man, nice graphics. Seriously. Looks great.

When people like me gripe about artists left out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Heart is one of the first bands we mention. As the first superstar band fronted by women, their cultural significance is unquestioned, and they’ve sure sold a lot of records over a long period of time, which remains the chief criterion for enshrinement. (Apart from being on Jann Wenner’s personal A-list, the criteria for which remain hazy to everybody but Jann Wenner.)

But Heart has released a fair amount of crap over the years. Even their legendary debut album, the 1976 release Dreamboat Annie, contains some embarrassingly bad moments alongside several inarguably classic songs. During the last half of the 80s, they scored several top-10 power ballads that blur in memory, as if they were the same song turned sideways and released again. And the 1990 iteration, “All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You” is one of the World’s Worst Songs.

Give Ann and Nancy Wilson credit for telling a story in the song, which was a dying art 20+ years ago. A woman picks up a hitchhiker in the rain, allows herself to be rogered roundly by him, then leaves the poor schlub a note telling him (obliquely) that he’s been merely a sperm donor. A chance meeting years later reveals the story’s final sad chapter.

When you consider that 1990 was an era of still-rising panic over HIV and AIDS, random hookups like the one portrayed here would have been considered far more dangerous than romantic. And although in-vitro fertilization was not yet the routine procedure it would become, it was an option for childless couples. You didn’t have to bed a stranger, although it makes a better story, and a better sexual fantasy.

“All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You” fails on a couple of other counts—it’s played at a lugubrious medium tempo that makes the song seem far longer than five minutes, and the big riffs that drive it contain no passion or fire, certainly not the kind of thing that might accompany the tale of a night in which the stranger “brought the woman out of me, so many times, easily.” And there’s that line, too—which is a strange way to characterize the night given the way the woman in the video looks through the whole thing, as though she’s about to be overwhelmed with guilt, or the flu, or something.

“All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You” was a massive hit, reaching #2 in Billboard during the spring of 1990. After “Alone” and “These Dreams,” it’s Heart’s third-biggest single of all time.

  • Jack Feerick

    I won’t let Ann and Nancy off the hook entirely, but I’m pretty sure Mutt Lange wrote this one — another sin that will be laid at his door, come the Day of Reckoning.

  • Beau

    Remembering Heart for this song is even worse than remembering Cheap Trick for “The Flame.” At least “The Flame” was listenable.

  • Matt Blick

    I was spoiling for a fight cos I thought you were going after the Willie Dixon song but you’re right this is horrible. Did she just sing “we planted a tree”?!?!?! The tempo is secret weapon – it allows you to appreciate the horror of every line before moving on to the next

  • toby1319

    Should be noted that, gig-wise, they haven’t touched this song since the early 90s. So they may agree with you (while still pocketing a nice royalty check each year).

    The only hits from that era they still do live are “Alone” and “These Dreams,” and both have a stripped down, more acoustic arrangement.

  • jabartlett

    Knowing this song was written by a man makes it even more skeevy, don’t it?

  • Old_Davy

    Heart is a tragic victim of the star maker machinery. At least they’ve come to their senses in recent years.

  • rockrdude

    I recently purchased a collection of CDs, and in it was a disc with Mutt Lange’s original demo of this song. After hearing his demo, I decided the Heart version really wasn’t so bad after all, even if they copied it note for note.

  • Guy Smiley

    Forgetting HIV fears for a moment… Picking up a hitchhiker and then deciding to seduce him, doesn’t seem terribly safe or smart either.

    Anyhow, terrible, terrible, embarassing song. Even by Heart’s admittedly low standards.

  • jasonh300

    No. It makes it make sense. This is some dude’s wet dream. No woman would come up with this crap.

    That being said, I was a junior in high school when the song came out, and I always pictured the guy she’s picking up as a homeless person…a smelly homeless person dressed in rags standing on the side of the road in the rain with his hand out for spare change so he can go buy more booze.

  • 7 Inches Of 70s Pop

    Jann Wenner has it out for Cameron Crowe, who is Nancy Wilson’s husband. That’s why they will never by in the RNR HOF, even if they never recorded this.
    Jann is a very vindictive man

    Also it’s obvious that she cheats on her husband with this hitchhiker just so she can get pregnant. This isn’t romance, it’s pathetic. This has the feeling of an early 70s country song, not a 90s MOR snoozefest.
    She writes a getaway letter saying “You are the seed”. Are you kidding me? And if it was love at first sight, why is this only a one-night stand?
    There is no logic to any of this.

    But it gets better: This song was originally recorded in 1979 by Dobie Gray and was offered to Don Henley to sing, either solo or with the Eagles, I’m not sure

    Skeevy songs I can deal with. Poorly written songs make me crazy.

    BTW Heart followed this up with Stranded and then Will You Be There In The Morning…what was going on with those women?


  • Pico

    Watching Nancy Wilson sway her sexy self around the stage with her axe makes this song slightly more tolerable.

  • Laura Namaste Cluff

    I despise this song, have since the first time I heard it (junior high years). It’s just plain BAD song writing, even without the ridiculous subject matter. For some inexplicable reason, it was, like you mentioned, a hit. This song was played ad nauseum, and is permanently tattooed inside my musical memory banks. I heard three seconds of it today while playing song pop, and it is now on repeat in my ibrain. I wish I had migraine instead. Ugh!

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