Thursday, August 29, 2013

Live in Peace Linda Ronstadt

Like millions of fans I was saddened to hear the news of Linda Ronstadt's Parkinson's disease, that is effectively ending her singing career, one of the most amazing musical journeys of her (and our generation). Although she had faded from the dizzying heights of her glory years  (TIME covers, dating Jerry Brown and George Lucas), Linda  pretty much did it all and reinvented herself so many times that she seemed to have multiple personalities. She was present at the creation of folk-country-roots rock, did the Pirates of Penzance in Central Park, had platinum  albums of pop standards with Nelson Riddle, sold  millions of copies of traditional Spanish songs and co-anchored the power-pop Trio albums with Dolly and Emmy Lou.

My first reference book, Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia, lists her as Linda and The Stone Poneys with two interesting facts. Different Drum (still getting airplay after 46 years) was written by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees fame and her guitarist then was Kenny Edwards who rejoined her on all the hit albums of the 1970's.

Has anyone had a better string than she did during that era? Heart Like A Wheel, Prisoner In Disguise, Hasten Down the Wind, Simple Dreams, Living in the USA.  She had the voice and the emotional involvement to make classics out of work from the best song writers of the time, whether it was Warren Zevon, Roy Orbison, J.D. Souther, Lowell George, Jagger & Richards, James Taylor, Neil Young, or Anna McGarrigle. They could perform their songs, she could sing them. Her voice was magical and it seemed to soar out of the stereo speakers.

Our paths sort of crossed three times. The first was at the Indiana State Fair in 1977 when she was wearing red white and blue tops and hot pants. She was the rock star who could croon the paint off your pickup with a Hank Williams song.

The second time was in DC when we saw her at a theater during the Canciones de Mi Padre tour. Our lack of Spanish language skills made the evening less than expected.

The third connection was in the mid-90s during a video shoot in Tucson, Arizona when the sound guy we hired turned out to be her brother, Mike (her other brother was the sheriff there for ten years). Mike was a nice fellow but his beat-up old International Scout ran out of gas enroute to our location and nearly sabotaged the day.

The Trio albums are still some of my most listened to as well as her  1995 CD, Feels Like Home, which includes her takes on After The Gold Rush and High Sierra and has Alison Krauss on fiddle for several cuts.

Linda has enough Grammys and gold and platinum albums to fill a museum.  No doubt she has more than enough stories to fill her new memoir, Simple Dreams. She certainly captured a little piece of my heart with her music.


  1. Nice reflection on Linda. She was a heart throb as well as a great vocalist.