The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Erik North.
Sometimes you first find out about your favorite artists not necessarily from your peers but, strangely enough, from either your parents or your relatives. In the case of Linda Ronstadt, I found about her through my aunt, who had a copy of Linda’s 1978 album Living In The U.S.A. that I listened to when I was eight years old back in 1978. Since that time, I have been a very staunch fan of Linda’s, even on those occasions when her excursions into other musical arenas have driven others to distraction. As it is with Elvis or the Beatles, if you have to have Linda Ronstadt explained to you, you may never get it.
Linda is not one of those who confines herself to any single genre; while that does tend to cause people a lot of problems, it’s in Linda’s nature to explore as much as she can, regardless of what the critics, or even her own fans, think. Whether it’s big band pop, Mexican rancheras, Gilbert and Sullivan, traditional, contemporary, and urban folk music, the experimental classical music of composer Philip Glass, rock and roll, blues, R&B or jazz, she just can’t stop exploring musically.
And yet, at the same time, even though she has never put herself in the strict category of being a country singer, her classic country-rock albums and songs have influenced at least three different generations of female country and roots-rock singers. She has an appreciation for and a huge knowledge of the country genre, through and through, having grown up in Arizona on a steady diet of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride. The early rockabilly records of Elvis, and later Buddy Holly, were also important factors in her musical growth. And when there was a revival of American folk music as the 1960s dawned, she was into that, too, getting a full dosage of traditional Appalachian folk music and bluegrass. All of those things have factored into how Linda Ronstadt approaches country music. Her approach is just more Sunset Boulevard than Music Row, that’s all.
Although it often gets pointed out that many of Linda’s hits are remakes of long-standing rock, R&B, and country songs that had been hits for others, what often gets overlooked is the complete albums those hits came from, and the songs that surround those hits. Linda was perhaps the first female singer in any genre, country or otherwise, whose career was defined by albums as much as (if not more than) hit singles. And so this is an advocacy of Linda’s great talents within or on the perimeter of the country genre, not only as a hitmaker, but as an album artist par excellence as well.
“The Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line”
Hand Sown, Home Grown, 1969
From Linda’s debut album, arguably the very first alternative-country album by a female artist, comes this feminist take on a song that had been a hit the previous year by Waylon Jennings (as “The Only Daddy…”). Linda’s snarling, almost-spat-out delivery, and a clever change in a lyric at the beginning, are almost a challenge against the stereotype of female country singers of that era. It was the first song she did on the Johnny Cash Show on June 21, 1969, that introduced her to country music audiences.
“I Can’t Get Over You”
Adieu False Heart, 2006
Linda’s duet album with Ann Savoy, though rooted in Celtic and Cajun roots music, goes into very rustic traditional folk/country territory with this ballad written by Julie Miller, whose husband Buddy plays acoustic guitar on this track. Linda’s lead vocals transport one back to that rootsy sound, aided and abetted by Ann’s harmony vocals. It is one of the standout tracks on an album that got a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Music recording in 2006.
“It’s So Easy”
Simple Dreams, 1977
At the height of her success, Linda also fueled a revival of rock and roll legend Buddy Holly’s catalog; and one of the ways she did this was to record this traditional rock and roll number from 1958 and spice it up with clavinets, a cowbell, and pounding drums. The inherent rockabilly twang of the song got a fair amount of country airplay, even though it only charted at No. 81 on the country singles chart. It nevertheless got to No. 5 on the pop singles chart. And at the same time, the album it came from was the No. 1 album on both the pop and country album charts.
Heart Like A Wheel, 1974
Who says women don’t do truck driving songs? Thanks to this number written by her good friend, the late Lowell George (of Little Feat), Linda pulls it off in this dissolute tail of being “robbed by the rain/driven by the snow” and being given “weed, whites, and wine” while journeying “from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah.” This is a defining song in the California country-rock repetoire from a landmark album in the genre.
“New Partner Waltz”
Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’, 2003
This all-star tribute to the country/gospel duo the Louvin Brothers won the 2003 Grammy for Country Album of the Year. Overlooked amidst the contributions made by heavyweights like Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Dierks Bentley, and her Trio pals Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, was this particular track in which Linda returns to her traditional country roots by duetting with the album’s producer and her good friend, bluegrass music master Carl Jackson. The two of them do such a good job, and it showed that Linda always had a lot of business revisiting the country arena.
“That’ll Be The Day”
Hasten Down The Wind, 1976
Having previously done a superb country/folk version of Buddy Holly’s last hit “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” on Heart Like A Wheel, Linda returned to the Holly catalog two years later with this modern rockabilly remake of his and the Cricket’s No. 1 hit from 1957. The use of echo on Linda’s vocals, and the twin guitar breaks provided by her guitarists Waddy Wachtell and Dan Dugmore, propelled this song to No. 11 on the pop singles chart, and No. 27 on the country chart in October 1976, and led to Linda earning her second Grammy award, this one for Best Pop Female Vocal.
Linda Ronstadt, 1972
Linda’s penchant for understanding the traditions of honky-tonk heartbreak songs, while realizing the timelessness of them, is borne out in this recording of a song that had previously been a hit for, among others, Ray Price in 1956, and has since been more recently covered by Patty Loveless, one of Linda’s many fans and peers. Coming from her self-titled album, which was her first true country breakthrough (it reached No. 35 on the country album chart early in 1972), this song also features contributions from a couple of guys named Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Need I tell anyone what became of them?
“Break My Mind”
Hand Sown, Home Grown, 1969
Another country standard, this one written by John D. Loudermilk (he of “Tobacco Road” and “Indian Reservation” fame, among others), this one was a favorite among the elite of the Los Angeles country-rock movement of the late 1960s; and Linda had the foresight to give it a honky-tonk rock throwdown rendition, complete with an unusually growling lead vocal from her, and a stinging guitar break from the late, great West Coast C&W guitar master Clarence White.
“Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me”
Simple Dreams, 1977
Linda often took a lot of hard knocks from critics for being “self pitying,” so in response, she shocked them by doing this very atypical Warren Zevon-penned hard country-rocker (complete with cowbell and syn-drums). This song revealed a humorous side of Linda, though it’s a brand of humor that is as black as coal. If its chart placement at the time seemed a little low (No. 31 pop, No. 56 C&W), it still remains one of Linda’s all-time best performances, given that it is essentially an ode to gang rape—a point that Terri Clark may have missed when she did this song nineteen years after Linda.
“Long, Long Time”
Silk Purse, 1970
One overlooked fact about this incredibly heartbreaking ballad is that Linda recorded it, and the album it came from, largely with a group of Nashville session musicians known as Area Code 615. The fact gets overlooked because the contributions made by fiddle player Buddy Spicher and pedal steel master Weldon Myrick to the song make it seem more orchestral than pure country. This song was also the only time Linda strongly advocated for its release as a single, over the objections of her then record label Capitol, and it paid off. Not only did it go to No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1970 (getting onto country radio later in the decade, when Linda’s crossover popularity was too great to ignore), but it also got Linda her first Grammy nomination, for Best Contemporary Female Vocal.
Don’t Cry Now, 1973
Much like her version of the Eagles’ “Desperado” on this same album (her first for Elektra/Asylum), this country-rock ballad, written by Rick Roberts of the Flying Burrito Brothers (he replaced Gram Parsons) and later of Firefall, is a tale of homesickness and a desire to come back to the homestead after many long years of being alone. It is a fitting song for Linda, for though she grew up in Arizona and not Colorado, its sentiment and its setting in the Intermountain West are borne out in Linda’s passionate, heartfelt delivery, boosted by a lush string section and surrealistic pedal steel guitar work from the late, great Sneaky Pete Kleinow.
“He Was Mine”
Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions, 1999
Linda and her good friend Emmylou Harris are a Mutual Admiration Society of the highest order, and their 1999 collaboration, recorded in Linda’s hometown, was a substantial hit with country and roots-rock fans (No. 73 pop, No. 6 C&W, October 1999). One of the songs on this album that stands out is this track, written by Emmy’s ex, Paul Kennerley, and given a typically passionate delivery by Linda, boosted by Emmy’s harmony vocal and Greg Leisz’s pedal steel solo. This was meant to be heard by a larger core of listeners, but country radio sadly stayed away from it.
“When Will I Be Loved?”
Heart Like A Wheel, 1974
The hard-belting style Linda displays whenever she gets her teeth into a traditional rock and roll number is very much in evidence in this Everly Brothers remake, essentially the Sunset Strip meeting the rockabilly sound of Sun Records, with its twanging guitar break from Linda’s long-time favorite session player Andrew Gold. All that kept it from going to No. 1 on the pop chart was the Captain and Tenille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”; it became Linda’s one solo No. 1 country hit in June 1975.
Feels Like Home, 1995
Matraca Berg considered it an extreme honor to have one of her songs recorded by one of the female legends who inspired her the most, even asking that those who were listening with her keep silent as she took it in. This hoedown, fueled by Linda’s Southwestern drawl and Allison Krauss’ fiddle, sadly got what amounted to The Shaft from country radio in April 1995, as it charted only at No. 61 on the country singles chart. Nevertheless, it is one of Linda’s strongest, most countrified vocal performances in her stellar career.
“Telling Me Lies”
Linda’s 1987 collaboration with good pals Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton was among the best-selling country albums of the pre-Garth, post-Urban Cowboy era; and one of the reasons was this Linda Thompson/Betsy Cook-penned ballad about betraying and deceitful men—perfect for a world-class vocalist like Linda, who sings lead here. “Telling Me Lies” peaked at No. 3 on the country chart on July 15, 1987, when Linda turned 41; and Trio peaked at No. 1 C&W, No. 6 pop, winning a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Duo/Group performance for 1987.
“I Fall To Pieces”
Linda Ronstadt, 1972
It may be considered sacrilege for a non-country singer to tackle a song made immortal by Patsy Cline back in 1961, but Linda takes a cue from Patsy’s relaxed delivery, giving this standard it a modest shuffle sound, rent with pedal steel and fiddle flourishes, and the ambience of a live audience (this was recorded at the legendary Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles in August 1971). Once again, future Eagles Don Henley and Glenn Frey are there, assisting Linda with good grace.
“I Never Will Marry”
Simple Dreams, 1977
A traditional Appalachian folk ballad popularized first by the Carter Family is given a restrained treatment by Linda, complete with her good friend Dolly Parton’s authentic Appalachian harmony vocals, which makes it appropriate that it should have peaked at No. 9 on the country singles chart in June 1978. What gets overlooked, though, is that Linda plays acoustic guitar on this track as well, helped out by the traditional Dobro shadings of the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge (as an addendum, this song’s A-side, a hard-rocking version of the Stones’ “Tumbling Dice,” was a No. 37 pop hit).
“A River For Him”
Winter Light, 1993
Winter Light, released in late 1993, was one of Linda’s most criminally underrated albums (only getting to No. 92 on the pop album chart); and one of the highlights of it was this tear-inducing, acoustic guitar-and-synthesizer-dominated ballad written by her good pal Emmylou Harris. Linda’s low-key delivery of Emmy’s lyrics is really affecting without being manipulative, and she gets all of the heartbreaking nuances, as she had done twenty-three years before with “Long, Long Time.”
Hasten Down The Wind, 1976
Once again, Linda isn’t afraid to tackle a classic, as she does here with this Willie Nelson-penned ballad immortalized by Patsy Cline in 1961. Linda’s approach is more bluesy than Patsy’s is, but her delivery, besides paying homage to a legend, also helped coin the phrase “torch rock.” The song, which hit No. 6 on the country chart in February 1977, also made the album it came from a No. 4 hit on the pop album chart, and No. 1 country.
“I Will Always Love You”
Prisoner In Disguise, 1975
There is such a thing as subtlety, something that Linda proved when she became the first artist to cover this Dolly Parton mega-classic, just fourteen months after Dolly’s original. If you think you’ve heard all you need to hear of this song through Whitney Houston’s arguably way-over-the-top 1992 version for the movie The Bodyguard, do yourself a favor and take a listen to Linda’s version, powered by Andrew Gold’s subtle piano, the R&B-tinged backup singers, Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel flourishes, and, above all else, Linda’s dramatic, heartfelt soprano voice. This song helped power the album to No. 4 on the pop album chart, and No. 2 on the country album chart in late 1975.
We Ran, 1998
There is just no way of getting around it: We Ran, released in June 1998, is one of Linda’s greatest latter-day albums and arguably also the single most criminally underappreciated album of her career (it only got as high as #168). And one of the highlights of this album is this track, penned by Paul Kennerley and country maverick Marty Stuart, a return to Linda’s early ’70s C&W-rock roots. It is essentially a duet of sorts, as former Eagle and longtime Ronstadt musician favorite Bernie Leadon harmonizes in a very slithery way with her and also does the twangy Telecaster guitar licks. This one track should have gotten country airplay.
“Silver Threads And Golden Needles”
Don’t Cry Now, 1973
How does this grab you—a remake of a remake. Linda had originally recorded this song, first a hit for Wanda Jackson in 1956, on Hand Sown, Home Grown in 1969, but she was unhappy with the arrangement of the song on that album. Four years later, she redid this country standard as a country-rock hoedown, fueled by the fiddle work of Cajun musician Gib Guilbeau and some piercing steel guitar work from Ed Black. With a No. 20 placement on the country singles chart in May 1974 (the album it came from hit No. 5 on the country album chart, and No. 45 pop), “Silver Threads” began Linda’s crossover dominance, by which she helped reconnect rock and roll with its traditional country roots.
Simple Dreams, 1977
What had originally been a very modest hit for its writer, the late and legendary Roy Orbison, in 1963 turned into one of Linda’s signature hits, also helping to re-establish Orbison’s place in the rock pantheon. With its bass line, marimba, and lush electric piano backing, in Linda’s hands, “Blue Bayou” is influenced to no small degree by Linda’s Mexican roots (she re-recorded this song again shortly after this had hit, this time in Spanish). Propelled near the climax by Dan Dugmore’s soaring steel solo, “Blue Bayou” got to No. 2 on the country chart in November 1977, and on Christmas Day was at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. With “It’s So Easy” also at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, Linda had set two records. She became the first female artist to have two top five hits at the same time, and the first act of any kind to pull off such a feat since the Beatles dominated the Top Five in April 1964.
“I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)”
Heart Like A Wheel, 1974
Linda always mentioned Hank Williams as a pivotal musical influence; and on her version of one of Hank’s signature hits, she puts her money where her big voice is. Aided and abetted on harmony vocals by her good pal Emmylou Harris, Linda pulled off a remarkable feat. “I Can’t Help It,” which hit No. 2 on the country singles chart in March 1975, was the B-side of “You’re No Good,” Linda’s No.1 pop hit of one month earlier. The following year, she won the first of (so far) eleven Grammy awards, for Best Female Country Vocal, beating out, among others, Emmylou and her other Trio pal Dolly Parton.
“Love Is A Rose”
Prisoner In Disguise, 1975
One can trace the Dixie Chicks’ approach back to this bluegrass-fueled version of a Neil Young composition that reveals Linda’s approach to country—more Laurel Canyon than the Opry, but still rooted in country, thanks to the contributions of Herb Pederson on banjo, and David Lindley on fiddle. “Love Is A Rose” hit #5 on the country chart, while the A-side, a pounding version of the Motown classic “Heat Wave,” simultaneously hit No. 5 on the pop singles chart in November 1975.
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Love, love, love, and love Linda Ronstadt. Awesome read and great job on song choice and rank.
Excellent list! I would love to draw attention to two additional favorites of mine: “Goodbye My Friend” from Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind and “Long Long Time”. Thanks again! :)
Ronstadt’s just a flat-out great singer, regardless of genre. Her influence on a generation of artists is immeasurable. Very nice piece.
Great list (though I admit I’ve only heard about half of the songs, being a bit of a Ronstadt newbie), and I’m really impressed with the writing, too. Awesome read.
Kevin, I think this is someone you should do a Buyer’s Guide for. I love Ronstadt’s voice on great material but don’t have the time or patience to wade through everything.
Her version of “I Will Always Love You” is hands down the best version of that song in my and Miss Parton’s opinion if I’m not mistaken.
What I hope I’ve done is not only to stimulate a revived interest in Linda’s contributions to the country genre, but also to let it be known that her greatness as a singer, and the reason that so many female singers admire her spirit, is in the complete albums she has made. It’s perhaps a bit too easy to pigeonhole her as a singles artist, especially given the fact that most of the hits she has had are reworkings of rock, R&B, and country classics, and I wanted to give a more complete overview. This is why I included more obscure songs like “Colorado”, “Heartbreak Kind”, “I Will Always Love You” and “New Partner Waltz” among the more well known hits.
The term “labor of love” is probably about as cliched a term as there is, but that’s really what this was for me; and I thank everyone who has shared their opinions here.
Erik, mission accomplished. You’ve inspired me to go back and check out Linda’s catalog. I grew up with a lot of it (a parental fav), and like most music you grow up with, you don’t necessarily pay close attention. It’s just always on in the background. A lot of your write-ups intrigued me enough to go back and check out certain songs/albums (which will inevitably lead me to more…)
Thanks so much for this……I went over to youtube to check out some of the songs. It’s been ages since I’ve heard “Willin” and “I Never Will Marry”. My personal favorite has always been “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me”. This made my day! Thanks again!
Mind you, folks, I’m not suggesting that you break the bank getting all of those CDs that these songs are on (times being what they are right now in the world). I only hope to stimulate some interest in her once again. I would also hope that some enterprising country radio station programmer out there will also revisit some of these songs, particularly the country hit singles, because they often sound far more traditional than virtually anything played in heavy rotation today.
Also, I think Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood may want to take a few pointers from Linda about vocal nuances, shadings, and subtlety. There’s still a lot that can be learned from someone who has been at this since the late 1960s; and in my humble opinion, both Taylor and Carrie could really grow into great vocalists by absorbing Linda’s approach, as Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and others have done before them.
Erik, great job! I think I enjoyed reading it as much as you enjoyed writing it! It’s a great list of songs, although i must admit I kind of figured”The Sweetest Gift”, would have been in there somewhere. Erik, you can see the love of Ms.Ronstadt in every word you have written and I for one say Bravo! Have you written any more articles like this! Thanks,man!
Heck, Taylor and Carrie could learn from Linda’s worthy heirs Trisha and Patty as well!
Great stuff Erik, I’ve been a fan of Linda Ronstadt since Long Long Time, but have only had a few albums of hers…I was mostly familiar with her top forty stuff, (as if those weren’t awesome enough)… But you’ve inspired me to dig a lot deeper, EXCELLENT, informative feature..Very well done.
Great list, by a true fan. Erik, you found Linda at the same age I did, but I think I must be a couple years older, I found her with Prisoner In Disquise. I think Linda would be proud to have a such a fan as yourself.
Great work, Erik. One of Linda’s country songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately is her duet with Tracy Nelson on Rock Salt and Nails. I’d love to see what you’d rank as #26 through 50.
Well #26 through #50, if we’re just talking about Linda’s country-oriented material, would be a handful to write about. It would indeed include “Rock, Salt, And Nails” (which, for those who may not know, is from a 1971 all-star album that Earl Scruggs recorded called I SAW THE LIGHT WITH SOME HELP FROM MY FRIENDS), and many, many others.
As I’ve said, Linda’s knowledge of country music is encyclopedic, ranging from old-timey Appalachian material (explored on TRIO), to bluegrass, honky-tonk, rockabilly, and, of course, country-rock. I could probably have made this list a hundred songs long; but since such past artist spotlights here have been limited to 25, I wanted to keep in line with that. As such, I do think I’ve covered a good deal of the waterfront when it comes to Linda’s C&W territory.
Erik, I’m printing out this feature…Reference for Ronstadt research..(how’s that for alliteration?!)
Seriously, this is the most excited I have been about re-discovering a great artist since I rediscovered Patty Loveless some years ago ;)
Good article – I basically agree with you other than I would have “Those Memories of You” near the top of my list and “Blue Bayou” not in my 100 favorite Ronstadt tunes – I think she murdered the song.
Also I think some of the Ronstadt- Nelson Riddle collaborations are worth checking into. No one song stands out but the albums are very good
My parents listened to Ronstadt as well. I’m going to have to go back and give these songs a try as a starting point. Great piece.
I admit that “Those Memories Of You” was a great cut on the TRIO album; the only problem is that it’s a track with Dolly as the lead vocalist, which would kind of be out of place on a list devoted to a TRIO co-partner.
Insofar as “The Sweetest Gift” goes, yes, that would have been on the list had there not already been twenty-five others ahead of it. As I mentioned before, if I could have made it 100, I would have, and “The Sweetest Gift” would in all likelihood have been on there too. It was quite a handful just to winnow it down to twenty-five, like past Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists spotlight segments.
I’m the one who originally set this feature at 25, because most worthy artists have at least twenty-five “favorite” tracks while they may not have fifty or one-hundred. The other reason is because there would be even less FSFBA’s from us if we made the number of tracks to rank and justify any longer. Of course, someone like Ronstadt who has had a very extensive career is more difficult to limit to a mere twenty-five, I’m sure. And as I always say with these things, the ranking really changes from week to week with our favorite artists. I’m never completely satisfied with my lists after they are posted because choices must be made.
I thought 25 was a excellent number. When I did this feature on Trisha Yearwood of her studio albums she has well over 100 songs but this number really helped me capture her best in my opinion and really makes you think about the songs themselves when choosing. It was quite a mind exercise!!!
Eric, Great list, even greater writing, have you considered a career in it? And for those who don’t know, Eric has tirelessly maintained a list of Linda’s work on other peoples albums for at least 15 years that I know of. Thanks for not only being a true fan, but sharing it with others. Bravo
Hey Eric, (and anyone else who read my above comments) I realized that it is Eric Henri that is responsible for the Linda guest appearances page, sorry. Still much kudos to your work Eric.
I enjoyed reading that very much. I am not entirely familiar with Linda’s music, but I do have a basic knowledge of her biggest hits. This list has given me some more songs to check out, and I was very pleased to see some of my personal favorites included. (“Silver Threads…,” “I Can’t Help It,” “Blue Bayou”) As I was scrolling through the list, I was thinking “Where’s ‘Love Is a Rose’? It’s an awesome song. Surely it’s got to be on here somewhere… Oh there it is – right at number one!” Great post.
In choosing “Love Is A Rose”, one of the things I wanted to do was to demolish the myth that Linda was a mere remake artist, even if the lion’s share of the hit singles she has had were hits for others ten to twenty years before. Linda’s just one of those artists who not only likes to test her own capacities, but also wants to challenge the notion that women can only do “female” songs. In doing that, of course, she set the bar rather high for a lot of women who’ve followed in her wake.
I guess I’m aRonstadt newbie myself – I bought my first collection about a year ago now – and I must have missed this piece when it was first posted. I’m glad someone commented on it to bring it back up. Solid rankings of course, even if I haven’t heard all the songs yet. Favorites of mine include ‘Love Is a Rose’, ‘Tracks of My Tears’, and her version of ‘Desperado’. The one omission I was surprised at is ‘Different Drum’, which is a masterful lyric, and just a bit ahead of its time.
Great read, and I learned a lot. Thanks.
Great article about a great singer. One favorite of mine not mentioned is “Adios” written by Jimmy Webb from her 1989 cd “Cry Like a Rainstorm-Howl Like the Wind”. It features background vocals by Brian Wilson. Another favorite is “White Rhythm & Blues” written by J.D. Souther from her “Living in the USA” album which also includes her great cover of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”.
“Different Drum” was before Linda went solo. It was written solely by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. It’s from the 1967 album “Stone Poneys Evergreen Vol. 2”. On the back of the LP cover it says “Catch a Stone Poney and Take Your Mind for a Ride”.
I’d have included a lot more, but “Different Drum” and “Adios” would not really fit into the mix here, as good as they are (the first being very baroque folk-rock; the other being a tearful but strictly pop ballad). Still, even though she doesn’t consider herself just a one-genre artist strictly, there’s not too much doubt that her influence with female country and roots-rock singers has been staggering…and grossly under-reported in the music media (IMHO).
I’ve been a slightly more than casual Ronstadt fan since the ’70s. Have always loved her vocals and how she can perform so many styles so well. I really love and appreciate her Nelson Riddle work. It’s just a shame that her public persona has become such a joke… talk about someone who really should “shut up and sing”.
Linda has always had very strong political opinions, as do a lot of singers, country and otherwise, but there’s nothing anyone can do about that. And anyway, with all due respect, I wrote this piece about Linda’s contributions to music, and for no other reason, least of all not to revive the tired old “shut up and sing” canard about singers mixing politics and music.
GREAT list!!! Most of this would have totally matched mine :)
“Heartbreak Kind” is definitely my fave.
With respect to “Heartbreak Kind”, like I said in my overview, it should have gotten some country radio airplay, and I could say the same for “Walk On.” Linda, however, is not known for catering to the whims of the marketplace, certainly not after 1990; and besides, her rootsy approach to country music probably wouldn’t get her much in the way of country radio airplay anyway. In the end, it’s a loss for country radio and its audience if they don’t play her (IMHO).
I should note here that today marks Linda’s 64th birthday. Following her recent appearance on Jimmy Webb’s recent album JUST ACROSS THE RIVER, she may not be making any more record or concert appearances–in short, she has retired from the recording/concert world in all but name, due to health issues. If true, it has been a staggeringly long, eclectic, and hugely influential career that may never be surpassed, or equaled, by anyone.