CU Archives: Linda Ronstadt

linda-ronstadtWe at Country Universe were very saddened to hear of Linda Ronstadt’s recent announcement that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight months ago, and that the disease has resulted in the total loss of her ability to sing.

Though Linda Ronstadt never took up exclusive residence in country territory (or in any one genre for that matter), she had remarkable successes in the country field, including the now-classic Trio project with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, and she served as an important influence for women such as Pam Tillis, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood. She has also been the subject of several excellent Country Universe features that are well worth revisiting.

First of all, be sure to check out Kevin’s feature on Ronstadt from the 100 Greatest Women countdown, in which she placed at No. 21.

Then take a look at our reader Erik North’s rundown of his 25 favorite Linda Ronstadt songs from Country Universe’s Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists series.

Finally, see Kevin’s reviews of her classic 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise and of her 2006 compilation The Best of Linda Ronstadt:  The Capitol Years.

Below is a selection of videos of Ronstadt in her prime performing some of her best-loved songs. Without a doubt, she will always be remembered as one of the greatest voices in music history, even if she can no longer use that voice today. Please share your own favorite Linda Ronstadt songs and performances in the comments section.


  1. Very sorry to hear about Linda’s condition. I’ve been a fan of hers since her Stone Pony days. My wife and I finally got to see her in 2006 at Westbury. She was 60 then and still sounded great.

    I’ve read the features by CU and Linda’s #1 fan Erik North and they’re all very good. A few of my favorite songs from Linda include:

    Different Drum (Stone Poneys)
    You’re No Good
    Blue Bayou
    Back in the U.S.A.
    (Black Roses) White Rhythm & Blues

    Unlike most Ronstadt fans, I never like “Love Is a Rose”.

  2. Such sad news. From the info released so far, it seems that symtoms may have started years ago, but were left undiagnosed. I wish she had been diagnosed then in order to possibly slow things down.

    Of course, I’m partial to her projects with Dolly and Emmylou. What a talent.

  3. It is very sad to hear about her being in this condition. I had not realized that she suffered from Parkinson’s disease, much less was at the point with her condition where she is unable to sing.

    I wasn’t ever into her music that much until around 2008. My aunt and uncle ended up having to move in with us for a couple of years. My uncle is a really big Ronstadt fan, so hearing some of her music being played around the house exposed and interested me more.

    I’d say my five favorite songs of hers are…
    Different Drum with the Stone Ponys
    Long, Long Time
    Hurt So Bad
    You’re No Good.
    When Will I Be Loved

    Her Trios album with Dolly Parton and EmmyLou Harris also produced a few favorites of mine like Father Along and To Know Him is To Love Him

  4. OK…. so I thought I could possibly choose one or two favorites, I can’t. I loved all she did, and I could only choose when she was singing with Dolly and Emylou because the three of them are at the top of my all time favorite singers. I went through two of those cassettes!
    Perhaps the draw she has for me…(as I will continue to listen to her music, her voice will never be truly gone) is she sang of love and heartache, something we all go through, the ups and downs of life. I never cared for the beer drinking tale chasing, cheating he/she done me wrong songs.

  5. That’s awful – this is the first time I’m hearing of it. I came to love her voice upon buying Trio II album(after which I bought the first one – loving it just as much). She’s obviously extremely talented, but also seemingly down-to-earth(thus, relatable). I love her penchant for experimenting with several genres. I’m so sad to hear of this news -but thanks for the videos/memories.

  6. I think it is very difficult to underestimate what Linda has meant for her fans and her peers, especially her fellow female singers–the basic inspiration and a motivation to let it all out with passion.

    In terms of what she has meant to country, though she is basically an outsider if one thinks of country music strictly in Nashville terms, what she did in the 1970s, alongside her good pal Emmylou Harris, in crossing over between country and pop, was to show a deep and abiding respect for tradition while also displaying progressive music values rooted in rock and the 1960s folk music movement, and how the two need not be mutually exclusive. This is how she could do a Hank Williams classic like “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” on the same album (1974;s Heart Like A Wheel) that she revived the 1963 Betty Everett R&B classic “You’re No Good”, and not only get away with it, but be admired for doing so.

    The fact that her voice has now been forever silenced by Parkinson’s is a staggering loss, but her extremely long career, her whole discography over many different genres, and the influence she has had over four successive generations of female artists is what I think we should all remember her for. Just as there will never be another Elvis, Patsy Cline, or Beatles, there will never be another Linda Ronstadt.

  7. It’s too bad that it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind me to listen to the music of somebody. Since Erik’s Ronstadt FSBFA, I picked up The Best Of Linda Ronstadt – The Capitol Years collection. There’s a lot of wonderful stuff on it that I’m revisiting today.

  8. Since my last comment, I’ve also bought The collection that includes her three pop standards albums with Nelson Riddle, Prisoner in Disguise and Simple Dreams.

    Erik, I immediately thought of and felt for you when I heard this news.

  9. The way I look at it is that Linda had an enormous career; and while, like her other fans (including her fellow female peers in the business) I am sad that it’s ended, it is the way of life, and life goes on. I just hope for Linda that she is still able to do as much as she can do, and that she loves doing it as much as she loved to sing. You couldn’t really wish anything better (IMHO).

  10. Erik, I think that’s a perfect way to look at it. I think the fact that she’s reached out to The AARP Magazine to discuss this is brave and generous of her.

    I’ll add that I’ve also purchased Hummin’ To Myself today and I love it, maybe even more than the excellent albums with Nelson Riddle, though I think it’s awesome how she revived Riddle’s career.

  11. Parkinson’s is an awful disease and in the days before the discovery of the L-dopa compounds, there was nothing that could be done about it. The father of one of my high school friends had the disease and was reduced from a vibrant athletic individual to a complete invalid in about four years (he died a few years later)

    With currently available treatments, Linda may still have a decade or more of life left to her, even if she has lost some abilities

    I guess that my favorite Ronstadt is the Nelson Riddle sessions, followed by her years on Capitol. Since the Nelson Riddle sessions, she’s followed her muse wherever it would take her, producing some very interesting albums in the process, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.

    It makes me sad that one of the most interesting singers in pop music will produce no new music, but she left behind a large and varied catalogue

  12. I think that together, with their perfect harmonies, her, Dolly and EmmyLou produced the best version of “Farther Along” out there. I don’t consider myself to be a religious person but this song and most especially their performance still finds a connection with me.

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