Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt, Prisoner in Disguise (Original Master Recording)

October 1, 2008 // 7 Comments

Linda Ronstadt Prisoner in Disguise (Original Master Recording) 1975 Anyone looking for the prototype of the modern female country singer can turn their attention to Linda Ronstadt’s classic 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise.  Of all of her seminal albums from the seventies, it is this one that best illustrates her groundbreaking fusion of country, rock and pop.    It’s a collection of songs culled from all over the musical map, with contributions from writers as diverse as Neil Young, Dolly Parton and Jimmy Cliff. But it isn’t diversity for its own sake, and Ronstadt doesn’t simply record the songs in the style they were originally presented.    Instead, she adapts the songs to her own vision, resulting in some stunning performances.   She was savvy enough to pick up on the transcendance of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, which she sings as a simple piano ballad that showcases her vocals.   Neil Read More

100 Greatest Women, #1: Dolly Parton

July 1, 2008 // 60 Comments

100 Greatest Women #1 Dolly Parton She emerged from poverty in the Smoky Mountains, the first of her family to graduate high school. She dreamed of being a country music singer, but it was her songwriting that got her in the door. Over the course of more than forty years, she has successfully navigated countless styles of country music, ranging from bluegrass to Hollywood pop-country, remaining a popular and relevant recording artist through the countless sea changes that occurred in the industry around her. Dolly Parton’s story begins in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Tennessee, where she was the fourth of twelve children. She began writing songs before she had begun formal schooling, and would physically force her younger siblings to watch her performances. Her mother taught her the old mountain songs, with a penchant for those with tragic undertones. This was a big influence on Parton’s writing, particularly in Read More

100 Greatest Women, #4: Emmylou Harris

June 27, 2008 // 27 Comments

100 Greatest Women #4 Emmylou Harris The living embodiment of artistic integrity, Emmylou Harris has been creating acclaimed music for more than three decades, building up the most consistent catalog in the history of country music. In her early days, her mix of contemporary songs and classic country songs was seen as forward-thinking and progressive, but over time, she would be seen as a protective guardian of country music’s heritage, even when she strayed far away from it on her own recordings. Her own roots were not in country music, as she was an aspiring folk artist in her early days. While she was also interested in drama, she was increasingly drawn to the folk songs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, eventually leaving college and moving to New York in 1968. However, the folk scene was beginning to die down, and though she found occasional work, it wasn’t much. Read More

100 Greatest Women, #13: Patty Loveless

June 17, 2008 // 42 Comments

100 Greatest Women #13 Patty Loveless “I’m a combination of Linda Ronstadt, Loretta Lynn and Ralph Stanley.” – Patty Loveless, 1989 Patty Loveless may be the last of the great mountain singers who will ever find mainstream country success, but there has always been a country-rock undercurrent to her material. Beloved by fans of pure country music, her work is deeply rooted in the mountain sounds of her native Kentucky, but her years singing rock music carried over into the studio, making her something of a progressive traditionalist. She was raised in Belcher Holler, a small Kentucky town where her father was a coal miner. He was struck by black lung disease, and the family moved to Louisville seeking medical care. Her older siblings Dotty and Roger performed in a country act they dubbed The Swingin’ Rameys, and when Dotty quit the band to get married, Roger coaxed Patty into Read More

100 Greatest Women, #21: Linda Ronstadt

June 9, 2008 // 23 Comments

100 Greatest Women #21 Linda Ronstadt She has a restless musical spirit, recording so many different styles successfully that no genre can fully claim her as their own. But it is her country recordings that have had the most lasting impact, and her seminal seventies work permanently changed the female approach to country music. She got her start in the country-rock scene of Los Angeles in the sixties, and she quickly became adept at fusing classic country with elements of the rock music of the day. With a handful of fellow musicians, she fronted The Stone Poneys. The band became a big hit on West Coast country and folk circuits, and the exposure earned them a recording contract. Their first album in 1967 didn’t go anywhere, but their second album featured “Different Drum”, a song clearly intended for a man to sing but in Ronstadt’s hands became an anthem for Read More

Album Reviews: Rosanne Cash, Linda Ronstadt

January 28, 2006 // 3 Comments

I spend a good chunk of my salary on music, and it seems wasteful not to pass it on when I’ve made a particularly worthy purchase. Here are some recent purchases that I think are worth your money, too: Rosanne Cash Black Cadillac An album written in the aftermath of the death of her father, stepmother and stepsister, followed by the death of her mother as the album neared completion? The expecations are bound to be unreasonable. Somehow, Cash exceeds them anyway. This is a strikingly intimate, insightful and ultimately uplifting record that should be necessary listening for processing grief. The inherent wisdom in a song like “God Is In The Roses”, which follows the title by adding “God is in the roses and the thorns”, is just one poetic example of Cash’s writing on this project, which features some of the best songs she’s ever written. I can’t help Read More

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