6 Top Annie Lennox Songs From Her Six Solo Albums

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Over the past 30 years, Annie Lennox has expanded her solo catalog from her 1992 debut, Diva, and her hits “Walking on Broken Glass” and the hypnotic “Why,” through the more revelatory Bare and her most recent collection of covers on Nostalgia in 2014.

Born on December 25, 1954, in Aberdeen, Scotland, Lennox began her musical career in the new wave band, The Tourists, in the late 1970s before breaking off with bandmate Dave Stewart to form Eurythmics in 1980. Co-writing the duo’s hits, including “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “Would I Lie to You?” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” and “Missionary Man,” among others spanning their eight albums together, Lennox and Stewart started to branch off into their solo careers.

A four-time Grammy winner as a solo artist alone, Lennox also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with a Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for “Into the West,” which she wrote with Howard Shore and Philippa Boyens for the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

A devout activist, Lennox, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Stewart for Eurythmics in 2022, continuously backs non-profit organizations and causes connected to women’s rights, human rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental issues, and more throughout the decades. Lennox has produced a number of charitable campaigns over the years, in addition to her work with UNICEF, Greenpeace, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, Bono’s ONE Campaign, and others.

To honor Lennox’s musical contribution as a solo artist, here are six songs, one pulled from each of her albums from Diva through Nostalgia.

1. “Why” (1992)
Written by Annie Lennox

The very first solo single released by Lennox, the lyrics are a palpable read-through of fears, self-doubt, and words unsaid. “Why,” along with the hit single “Walking on Broken Glass,” were released on Lennox’s 1992 debut, Diva, which picked up three Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and won Best Long Form Music Video, sharing it with Sophie Muller, who directed the Dangerous Liaisons-style video for “Walking on Broken Glass” (starring John Malkovich and Hugh Laurie) and the starker backstage setting around Lennox’s visage for “Why.”

How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done
But when I start to try to tell you
That’s when you have to tell me
Hey, this kind of trouble’s only just begun
I told myself too many times
Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut
That’s why it hurts so bad to hear the words
That keep on falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Tell me
Why

2. “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” (1995)
Written by Neil Young

Originally released on Neil Young‘s 1970 album, After the Gold Rush, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” was one of the covers on Annie Lennox’s second album. Medusa. An album entirely of covers, Medusa also features Lennox’s interpretations of The Clash’s “Train in Vain,” Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” and “Something So Right” by Paul Simon.

Old man lying by the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking from the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky
Cold wind ripping down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies
Dead man lying by the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes

3. “A Thousand Beautiful Things” (2004)
Written by Annie Lennox

Peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, Bare was written entirely by Lennox and co-produced with Andy Wright and Stephen Lipson. Exploring love, faith, rage, and gratitude, “A Thousand Beautiful Things” lands on the latter in verses thankful for air to breathe and the heart to beat and the eyes to see.

I thank you for the air to breathe, the heart to beat, the
Eyes to see again (a thousand beautiful things)
And all the things that’s been and done the battles won the good and bad in everyone
(This is mine to remember)
So, here I go again, (here I go)
Singin’ by your window, (singin’)
Pickin’ up the pieces of what’s left
To find, (pickin’ up, pickin’ up)

4. “Sing” (2007)
Written by Annie Lennox

Off Lennox’s fourth solo album, Songs of Mass Destruction, the songs, her first since Bare eight years earlier, open the dialogue of a cause close to her heart, including “Sing,” written to help raise awareness and money for Treatment Action Campaign, an organization that works to provide access to healthcare services for all people living with HIV and tuberculosis.

Featured on the collaborative track is Madonna, who sings the second verse of the song, along with vocals by Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Gladys Knight, Bonnie Raitt, Pink, Shakira, k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge, Anastacia, Isobel Campbell, Dido, Fergie, Beth Gibbons, Angélique Kidjo, Beverley Knight, Sarah McLachlan, Beth Orton, Shingai Shoniwa, Joss Stone, Martha Wainwright, Sugababes, and KT Tunstall.

You don’t need to disrespect yourself again
Don’t hide your light behind your fear
Now women can be strong
You’ve known it all along
What you need is what you haven’t found

5. “Universal Child” (2010)
Written by Annie Lennox

The very first Christmas album released by Lennox, A Christmas Cornucopia features a collection of her renditions of holiday classics, including “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Silent Night,” as well as the original track “Universal Child.” Royalties from the song were donated to The Annie Lennox Foundation.

And when I look into your eyes, so innocent and pure
I see the shadow of the things that you’ve had to endure
I see the tracks of every tear that ran right down your face
I see the hurt, I see the pain, I see the human race
And I can feel you, you’re everywhere, shining like the sun
I wished to god that kids like you could be like everyone

6. “I Put a Spell on You” (2014)
Written by Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins

Another album of covers, Lennox focused on songs from the 1930s and ’50s, including “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins’ 1956 classic “I Put a Spell On You.” What started out as a blues ballad for Hawkins turned into something more sinister, when he performed the song in a vampiric cape while rising out of a coffin. A pioneer of shock rock performances well before Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare and beyond eras, Hawkins later added more horror-themed elements to his stage settings.

Lennox performed a more subtle rendition of the Hawkins classic, circling around longing and desire, at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in 2015. Her version also had a resurgence on the charts after it was featured in the 2011 film Fifty Shades of Grey.

I put a spell on you
Because you’re mine

You better stop the things you do
I tell you, I ain’t lying
I ain’t lying

You know I can’t stand it
You’re running around
You know better daddy
I can’t stand it ’cause you put me down

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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