Song of the Week: Heart of Stone (1994)
“Heart of Stone”, the lead single from Dave Stewart’s solo album “Greetings From the Gutter” became one of the most played songs on European radio in the autumn of 1994. Stewart also performed the song live on several memorable occasions; Channel 4’s music show The White Room, the annual Prince’s Trust Benefit Concert and MTV’s Most Wanted.
When Stewart spoke to MTV News prior to the release he explained he had collaborated with former Massive Attack singer Shara Nelson:
”It’s my first real, sort of, solo album, and every song on the album is like really personal including Heart of Stone, even though some of the lyrics of Heart of Stone I co-wrote with Shara Nelson. But that was a really spontaneous thing; I was busy playing the guitar, you know, the lead line and everything. Shara was coming up the steps singing and the two things together started to sound really good so I carried on and finished the song in New York and wrote the rest of the lyrics about what I was actually doing that day and what was going on in my mind”.

And when Stewart later visited Swedish national radio (P3) in 1994 he explained further:
”Heart of Stone actually is one of the only songs I’ve ever written, well the only song, I wrote exactly what I did when I got up in the morning and I went to Union Square in New York City and I bought a record in a shop called Discorama. Then I went to Electric Ladyland which is the studio Jimmy Hendrix built and I was making my record. So the song is completely autobiographical to the point to the present moment. But what I’m actually singing about is, you know, when you buy somebody’s record and you really idolize that person, say like a Madonna fan or whatever, it’s kind of very dangerous to actually fall in love with that person because it isn’t actually, usually the person on the record isn’t a real person, and it’s like maybe your heart is made of stone. But it’s also a mixture with a real experience”.

And in an in-depth interview on Z-TV with renowned music journalist Per Sinding-Larsen Stewart explained why he liked working with musical contrasts:
”I like that ’double entendre’, and I like the tragic comedy, black and white, mixing a really dark lyric with a very up melodic chorus. And if you think about the chorus I’m actually saying ”Maybe your heart is made of stone”. I mean, it’s not very flattering. But the music sounds really up. /—/ I’m singing about glamour and fame and people who appear to be glamorous and famous that people look up towards and I’m saying, maybe it’s not all that it seems to be. Maybe that person is dead inside”.
Greetings From the Gutter was recorded and mixed both in London and in New York. In a 10 minute Dave Stewart profile on KASR VIDEO Stewart explained why he went to New York to record the album:
”At first it was to do with the musicians that I wanted to work with, that’s the reason I came to New York. I wanted to work with Bootsy Coolins and Bernie Worrell and I wanted to work in their environment and with lots of other New York musicians”.
Accordingly we hear some heavy P-Funk influences on the album: Bootsy, Bernie and Jerome ”Big Foot” Brailey play on most tracks, but there are also great musical contributions from Mudbone, Larry Frantangelo and Henry Benefield (of New Rubber Band fame). Stewart’s own guitar playing is of course an important element throughout the album and the classic guitar solo in Heart of Stone is of course no exception. About the guitar work on the album Stewart said:
”I mean, this album I think is important to me as a guitar player as well because I was always hiding my guitar playing where as I know I am a guitar player and I love playing the guitar so, this is my album, so fuck you.”
The female backing vocalists – Lady Miss Kier, Zhana Sanders, Kristen Gray and Barbara Tucker – also contributed to the special sound Stewart was looking for.
He explains:
”One of the vocalists is Lady Miss Kier from Deee-Lite and she was singing,  you know, with two other girls and between the three of them I got the actual, perfect sound that I was looking for. /—/ I particularly wanted this, eh, backing vocalists that had that kind of New York/American sound to their voice”.
In an interview in The Berkshire Eagle Kristen Gray recalls how she got involved in the recording session:
”A year ago last March, Bootsy Collins called Kristen Gray from a recording studio in New York. ’I know you were a big Eurythmics fan, and I’m doing a session with Dave Stewart’, he said. ’Come over and say hi’. Gray recounts the conversation. He’s like ’Oh, nice to meet you’. I said, ’I’m really a big fan’. He says ’You want to jump in and sing?’ I say, ’Oh, I’d love to’. Secretly, I’m going crazy inside. So that day we recorded four of five songs. Dave was so concerned, asking, ’Do you like the music?’. So his manager says, ’Okay, Kristen, so tomorrow at the same time?’ That was about how fast it happened”.
The excellent music video to Heart of Stone was directed by Kevin Godley and features Dave Stewart together with Bootsy and the rest of the New York musicians in a very special setting, you can view the video at the end of this page. In the 1994 November issue of Q Magazine Stewart wrote a highly entertaining diary – ”Transvestites, Taxis, Tortillas, $ 2.75” –  about his time in New York. I leave you now with Stewart’s own words about the video shoot for Heart of Stone:
”Woke up at 9am, took a cab to first day of video shoot for Heart of Stone. This was on West 9th in the meat packing district area and it stank of dried blood. Thankfully we had a bus parked outside which later became a refuge and the center of our lives for the next two days. We were shooting the video in a giant loft space looking like a Warhol factory scene with lots of extras. It was being directed by Kevin Godley who was busily making final alterations to the set. We were all balanced 15 feet up on the wall looking down at this posey crowd; we were literally hanging 15 feet up. Bootsy went first in all his wild gear and 10 feet butterfly wings. He looked amazing. As Beavis and Butthead said the other night, Bootsy he’s cool, he’s from outer space”.
Chris Wikstrom

Here’s the official video, and then a live version.