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Linda Ronstadt
September 16, 2013 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Linda Ronstadt was diagnosed 9 months ago with Parkinson's and, according to Linda, she "can't sing a note". Linda sang her last concert in 2009, her voice reflecting the impact of the disease. It's hard to pick out a favorite, there are just so many fantastic hits, especially considering that Linda suffered from stage fright, but...I'll leave you with this simple tune, Someone to Watch Over Me. Previously on Metafilter.
posted by HuronBob (68 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not hard for me to pick out my favorite: it's her double-disc 'Round Midnight, featuring jazz standards arranged by Nelson Riddle. Linda Ronstadt sometimes gets a bad rap from hardcore jazz fans, and like with Diana Krall, I just don't get it. She's incredibly good. She epitomizes the cardinal rule, which is that you sing the song.

Ronstadt began noticing problems with her voice almost a decade ago. Doctors told her there was nothing wrong with her physically. One specialist said she had "the healthiest larynx of any singer who had the kind of career I did." But Ronstadt, a self-scrutinizing perfectionist, knew better.

That's interesting, and credible.
posted by cribcage at 7:56 PM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I remember a review of an album she did back in the nineties (it was the one with the Aaron Neville duet, "Don't Know Much") which essentially criticized her peformance for being "too perfect" and claimed Neville's mistakes provided a welcome contrast to Rondstadt's flawless voice. Dumbest review I ever read, and I think of it often when I sit down to write a review of something or other. If you can't come up with a criticism of more value than that, you might as well not bother.
posted by orange swan at 8:03 PM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I used to wonder how she came to have a hit with a Warren Zevon song. I figure the connection was via Jackson Browne, who helped Zevon a lot, early on (I think Browne got him his first major record deal, even).

That's very sad that she is ill in this way, how cruel.
posted by thelonius at 8:03 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't care if liking her isn't cool. She has a great voice and a discography for everyone. I'm very sorry she can't sing anymore.

Sidenote: She was a Not My Job guest on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me a few years back, and I got the impression that she wouldn't be very fun to have a drink with.

But she still has one of the awesomest voices ever. And maybe it would be the funnest drink ever. I don't know. We contain multitudes.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh no. Not Linda. Her album with Nelson Riddle helped me gain am appreciation for so much "older" music. Damn.
posted by dbmcd at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her album with Emmylou Harris was incredible.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:08 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her album with Emmylou Harris was incredible.

YOU FORGOT DOLLY.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:09 PM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Her album with Emmylou Harris (and Dolly) was incredible.

They did two: Trio and Trio II
posted by HuronBob at 8:11 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I been rocked by the rain, driven by the snow
drunk and dirty, don't you know
but I'm still
willin'

posted by mightygodking at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


from way back with the Stone Ponys
posted by philip-random at 8:17 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


YOU FORGOT DOLLY.

That, too, but I meant the album with just the two of them, with the Andy Prieboy cover on it.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:20 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


mightygodking posted what I was going to post.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:21 PM on September 16, 2013


A recent interview regarding this (with Diane Sawyer)
posted by HuronBob at 8:24 PM on September 16, 2013


That, too, but I meant the album with just the two of them, with the Andy Prieboy cover on it.

Ooh, I had forgotten about that one, and I thank you sincerely.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:25 PM on September 16, 2013


infinitywaltz: "That, too, but I meant the album with just the two of them, with the Andy Prieboy cover yt on it."

Oh gawd, that album, a couple Emmylou solo albums, Townes' "Live at the Old Quarter", and maybe a little Prine, and I can drive from here to the coast...
posted by notsnot at 8:41 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


When she was starting out she played (always barefoot) the Golden Bear, in Huntington Beach, quite often. Friends and I might be there for 4 or 5 of a 6 night stand, right in front. She once said, "you guys again?" Then when "Heart Like a Wheel" hit, we barely got in.

I am sad for her.
posted by Danf at 8:46 PM on September 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Aww, hell. She'll always be the definitive Mabel, to me.
posted by Suddenly, elf ass at 8:54 PM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


an album she did back in the nineties (it was the one with the Aaron Neville duet, "Don't Know Much")

That would be Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind, from 1989. Brilliant album, full of great songs from world-class songwriters. Nearly a song cycle in its construction.

One of the only concerts I ever saw with my father was seeing this tour, which had the Neville Brothers opening, and then Aaron coming back for much of Linda's headlining set. It was an incredibly powerful night of music, and is one of the treasures of my life experiences, as my father and I don't share much overlap in music.

But Linda -- we both love her deeply.
posted by hippybear at 8:58 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Linda, Linda, you made me start to love music back in the 70's with Blue Bayou. Still gives me shivers.

That is a heck of a story Danf. She is barefoot in the video phillip posted, which I wouldn't have noticed had you not said so.

A very pre-internet experience I had was sitting around with roomies in the early 80's trying for the life of us to remember the name of her first(?) band. The Stone Pony's of course, but there was no easy way to look up stuff like that back in those days.

Later, I understood from some Mexican acquaintances that she had acquitted herself quite well with Canciones De Mi Padre.

Such a strong versatile voice, very sad to hear this news.
posted by telstar at 9:19 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The part that made me the saddest is that she doesn't sing at all any more, not even in the shower.

My voice isn't what it used to be, and it was never even close to 1/1000th of hers, but I still sing in the shower.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Walk Away Renee (with Ann Savoy)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:52 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It bums me out to think that there will never be a Trio III.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:02 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how many artists she's performed with..... Here's Linda with James Taylor doing "I think it's going to work out fine"
posted by HuronBob at 10:05 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


She is one of the great ones, one of the best, ever, to sing. It's sad that it will take her illness to introduce her to new fans, but I have no doubt that posterity will judge her as a giant.
posted by oneironaut at 10:17 PM on September 16, 2013


Desperado.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:20 PM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a singer this breaks my heart.
posted by 26.2 at 10:45 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sad news, and the 2nd time I've heard it today. Billy Connolly also has Parkinson's.
posted by de at 10:51 PM on September 16, 2013


All the things that could have been.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:21 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Parkinson's started nailing my older brother 8 years ago, began taking from him physical abilities but also began cutting into his mind, slowing him, yet not slowing him enough that he didn't know it was happening. Lung cancer came on about three years ago, grabbed him by the throat, took him in less than six months.

He told me -- I'm out there visiting him, two months before his death -- he told me that he was fine with the cancer, that hey, you either win or lose, but it's not this debilitating and humiliating theft of his body and brain. He told me straight up that he'd take lung cancer over Parkinsons any day, and it made perfect sense to me.

That's what she's facing down. There are much better drugs in recent years and I think even brain surgeries to help some people afflicted with this, but not all of them.

~~~

She is a large part of the soundtrack of my youth, her voice all over the radio, country and rock audiences both loved her, I damn sure did.

I've not kept up with her changes over these past years but have kept up the knowing that she had the jam to make changes, to follow her Art Heart where it led her. She had such a successful groove, would have been easy for her to just spit out the same thing every two years, but she didn't choose easy. How can you not admire that?

~~~

I am extraordinarily grateful that I live in a world of magic, a world in which I can hear an artists fine voice even after that fine voice is silenced, simply by loading a file onto an mp3 player and punching up the "Play" button.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:52 PM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Linda and the Man in Black.

I only have about a dozen clips in 'Favourites' on youtube, but this is one of them.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:13 AM on September 17, 2013


I Don't Know Much (with Aaron Neville).
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:23 AM on September 17, 2013


A recent interview regarding this (with Diane Sawyer)
Sawyer (in reference to her Parkinsons): Don't you get angry?

Ronstadt: Oh, I get plenty angry... Immigration laws...
Ah, Linda, I have always loved you and always will.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:32 AM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


After the Goldrush (with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton).

Blowing Away (with Bonnie Raitt).
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her backing track on Under African Skies is one of the most beautiful things ever.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:44 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Different Drum - Stone Poneys. I love this song so much. She's this and Mabel to me.
posted by h00py at 2:51 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This breaks my heart.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:41 AM on September 17, 2013


Here's "Texas Girl at The Funeral of Her Father" by Randy Newman, who accompanies her on the piano here. Dammit, Parkinson's is a cruel, cruel disease.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:50 AM on September 17, 2013


Parkinson's started nailing my older brother 8 years ago, began taking from him physical abilities but also began cutting into his mind, slowing him, yet not slowing him enough that he didn't know it was happening.

What many people don't know is that Parkinson's falls under the same broad umbrella of mental disorders as does Alzheimer's. They are fairly closely related.

This is sad news, indeed. Ronstadt's voice is a gorgeous treasure. One of my favorites is her take on Elvis Costello's Alison. The gender switch doesn't matter. It's still a great, painful, love song.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


She did three Costello songs on that record.
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on September 17, 2013


My favorite Ronstadt performance also happens to be my favorite James Taylor performance too.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:40 AM on September 17, 2013


I don't care if liking her isn't cool.

1967 FRANK ZAPPA & LINDA RONSTADT RADIO AD THAT INFLUENCED ‘THE SIMPSONS’ THEME

What's not cool about that?
posted by three blind mice at 4:45 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heat Wave makes me dance wherever I am sitting or standing.
posted by pointystick at 5:16 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how many artists she's performed with.....

Really, she seems to turn up everywhere sometimes. Also a classic interpreter of the songs of Kate & Anna McGarrigle.
posted by ovvl at 5:43 AM on September 17, 2013


One of my all-time favorite songs was on the Urban Cowboy movie soundtrack (yech) and not even in the movie. It's a great duet with JD Souther, Hearts Against the Wind. So very worth a listen

Jeezelpete I love that song.
posted by cccorlew at 5:53 AM on September 17, 2013


Can you imagine how horrid the Stone Poneys would have been without Linda Ronstadt? Seriously, listen to the huge difference between this live performance of Different Drum and the album version, which (as numerous sources attest) the band outsourced to an arranger and (other than Ronstadt) didn't even perform on. The two most memorable parts - the opening riff and the harpsichord bridge - are entirely absent from the live version.

And the band had no part in the writing, either; that honor went to the awesomest Monkee of them all, Mike Nesmith (previously).
posted by The Confessor at 6:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Linda Ronstadt is a large reservoir of good stuff. There was a BBC movie From the Byrds to the Eagles which is more about the Eagles than anything else; the story in there is that the Eagles brain trust had them work as Linda Ronstadt's backup band for awhile so that they could see what it was like to be professional. It appeared to be the kind of thing that is based on memories twenty years after of people who were mostly messed up on drugs at the time but what gets reported seems nearly unanimous that her peers respect her greatly.
posted by bukvich at 6:13 AM on September 17, 2013


I remember seeing Linda Ronstadt perform at the now closed Cape Cod Coliseum one hot summer night back in the early 1980's. I think Loverboy also performed that night if my memory is correct. Those were good times. And she rocked.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:28 AM on September 17, 2013


So sad, I love her. Love 'Different Drum.'
posted by discopolo at 6:38 AM on September 17, 2013


I fell in love with her voice the first time I heard it.

And I cried when I heard this news.
posted by tommasz at 6:40 AM on September 17, 2013


>> But Ronstadt, a self-scrutinizing perfectionist, knew better.
>
> That's interesting, and credible.
> posted by cribcage at 10:56 PM on September 16 [2 favorites +] [!]

The performer can tell before anyone else. Artur Rubenstein: "If I skip practice for one day I can tell. If I don't practice for two days my wife can tell. If I don't practice for three days audiences can tell."

I can't pick a Ronstadt favorite. There's too much.
posted by jfuller at 6:51 AM on September 17, 2013


I been cheated. Been mistreated. When will I be loved?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:02 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her vocals on All That You Dream on Little Feat's Hoy Hoy are amazing. Hard to imagine how she feels losing a gift like she had.
posted by octothorpe at 7:08 AM on September 17, 2013


When I Grow Too Old To Dream.

It's sad that she has Parkinson's, but wonderful that she shared her voice with the world. She had the gift of a wonderful instrument and played it well.

Also, Linda on "wait wait...don't tell me!"
posted by plinth at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phil Dick was a huge, huge Ronstadt fan. He said, and I paraphrase here, "nothing makes you determined to change your life like hearing Linda Ronstadt say that you're no good." Phil was such a Ronstadt fan, that he eventually wrote Linda into The Divine Invasion as a Satan-destroying Sophia/Christ-figure. And that novel is now in The Library of America. Not every performer gets to be a Messiah in a book with the national imprimatur.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Tucson's local weekly paper has an excerpt this week from Ronstadt's memoir, Simple Dreams.

They also have a nice piece (with a stupid headline) about Linda's involvement with, and contributions to, Tucson over the years.

The Ronstadt family have been in Tucson since 1882, when Linda's grandfather moved here from Sonora, Mexico.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am also a huge fan of Canciones De Mi Padre.

.
posted by kalessin at 8:19 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love, love, love Ronstadt's stuff from the 70s, but if "Somewhere Out There" is ever played again before the heat death of the universe, it will be far too soon.

It's a damn shame about the Parkinson's.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:41 AM on September 17, 2013


A magnificent voice with both sweetness and power and her tremendous control of her instrument always made her a treat to hear. So sad that voice is stilled.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2013


When I Grow Too Old To Dream sans Muppets. It's heartbreaking. It had the same effect on my middle-aged dad & teenage me - stopped both of us in our tracks with its vulnerable honesty. Over the years I've purchased this song on vinyl, cassette, CD, and mp3. He's been dead for more of my years than he was alive but I still miss my dad.
posted by headnsouth at 9:28 AM on September 17, 2013


"Long, Long Time". That is all.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:14 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Somewhere Out There. And from American Tail 2, Dreams to Dream. <3
posted by IndigoRain at 12:57 PM on September 17, 2013


Team Plow King 4 Life.
posted by whuppy at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Linda rocks!
posted by bonefish at 3:30 PM on September 17, 2013


Wnen I was in grade school I was smitten by Linda the first time I heard her sing "Dos Arbolitos". But my favorite LR song is still her version of "I fall to pieces". It was recorded live on one of her first solo albums with the brilliant Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar.

I am damn sorry to hear that illness has taken such a toll on this beloved artist.
posted by abakua at 5:59 PM on September 17, 2013


I grew up listening to her, and her style had a major influence on the way I sing. This is heartbreaking to read. I saw the headline a while ago, but didn't fully understand the implications until now. The album Trio, everything she ever did in the 70s, but particularly the song Long Long Time, and her work with the Stone Poneys -- all of that -- had a major impact on me. And that high note in Blue Bayou... I can't even imagine having a golden throat like that and then losing the ability to sing.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:21 AM on September 18, 2013


Morning Glory/Hobo (written by Tim Buckley and sung with the Stone Poneys)
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:59 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I been rocked by the rain, driven by the snow

I always heard it as "warped by the rain."
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:01 AM on September 18, 2013


Team Plow King 4 Life.

"Mr. Plow is a loser and I think he is a boozer..."
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:07 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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