August 11, 2003 12:00 PM

With her tight vocals and stylized looks, singer Annie Lennox has always seemed the epitome of cool, controlled and uncluttered. But in her day-to-day London life with daughters Lola, 12, and Tali, 10, she admits life can be anything but orderly. “I’m always writing to-do lists,” she says. “They’re not on the fridge, they’re on scraps of paper. I’m a single mother, and I’m working and I’m juggling. I’m looking after those two little things’ lives, with lots and lots of things happening. Like other moms, I’m multitasking.”

Mom is having a superbusy summer: Now 48 and separated for two years from the girls’ father, Uri Fruchtmann, 48, an Israeli movie producer (Spice World), the former voice of Eurythmics has been out promoting her first album of new material in more than a decade. Not coincidentally, the critically praised but emotionally bleak Bare grew out of the collapse of her 12-year marriage. The album has songs titled “The Hurting Time” and “Bitter Pill,” but Lennox, who had an off-and-on relationship with Eurythmics cofounder Dave Stewart, 50, in the late ’70s and another marriage that ended in 1985, refuses to get into details of the split: “It’s far too private.” Still, this failure seems bitter enough to have soured her expectations of marriage. “Commitment to one person for the rest of your life nowadays seems insane,” she says. “It’s the most beautiful ideal, but it’s hard to achieve.”

Raising Lola and Tali, though, has given her a perspective she never expected. “The fact that a child can cry and you will jump out of the bed—it’s a feeling of connection, this miracle of life,” says the Aberdeen, Scotland, native, the only child of a boilermaker and a cook. Before the girls were ready for nursery school, Lennox learned to drive at 38. “I realized that if I wanted to be mobile, to be able to pick them up from school, I had to.” Her perspective continues to change as they grow older. A few months ago, when she took them to see Broadway’s Lion King, “I got goose bumps and I found tears streaming down my face,” she says. “I thought, T mustn’t let my kids see, they’ll be so embarrassed.'”

After a career of drawing stares—you may recall her Minnie Mouse get-up at the 1995 Grammys—Lennox is a long way from the orange flattop she wore when she sang her career-making hit, 1983’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” The cover of Bare is illustrated by one of the unblinkingly middle-age, near-nude self-portraits she recently created with the help of artist Allan Martin. At a Manhattan gallery show of the photos in June, one woman even complained that she’d been hoping for something more shocking from the old pop provocateur. “That’s okay,” says Lennox. “This is how exposed I want to be.”

The truly shockingly confessional stuff, she confides, she keeps in a journal on her laptop. “But it’s strictly for me,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll erase it before my kids ever get to it.”

Tom Gliatto

Pete Norman in London

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