Linda Ronstadt's Curtain Call

Interview

Friday, September 27, 2013

Few pop singers have been as successful, as durable, and as wide-ranging as Linda Ronstadt. She was a country-rock ingénue in the late 1960s, a pop mainstay in the 1970s, and then in the '80s, when she might have gone stale, she sang opera, operetta, mariachi, country and bluegrass harmonies, and standards from the American songbook. She says in a new memoir, Simple Dreams, that she heard all those sounds as a child growing up in a musical, bilingual family in Arizona. “A lot of the songs that I’d heard when I was a child I thought were better songs than some of the mainstream pop things that I was getting,” she tells Kurt Andersen. I thought they were better. I wanted to do them.”

Ronstadt was uncomfortable with her early stardom, feeling insecure about her voice. “It takes a long time to do anything well. I took about ten years to learn how to sing ... Until after 1980 was when I really got going.” She explains how she overcame her jealousy of Emmylou Harris, who was doing what Ronstadt herself wanted to do.

Last month Ronstadt announced that Parkinson’s disease had made it too difficult to continue singing. “There’s a guy sitting in your brain making a phone call to the muscles saying 'Move in this certain exquisite way.’ I can’t get to the note — it’s like taking the elevator, you push 9 and it goes to 13.” Ronstadt has few regrets about her career, but “I wish I could have sung Kurt Weill until it came out my ears”, she says. “I love songs from The Threepenny Opera. I love ‘Mahagonny,’ I love ‘September Song.’ God, I want to sing ‘September Song’ — but I can’t sing.”

 

Linda Ronstadt's 3 for 360


    Music Playlist
  1. Willin'
    Artist: Linda Ronstadt
    Album: Heart Like a Wheel
    Label: Capitol
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Rogaciano el Huapanguero
    Artist: Linda Ronstadt
    Album: Jardin Azul: Las Canciones Favoritas (US Release)
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
    Artist: Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton
    Album: Trio II
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Tell Him I Said Hello
    Artist: Linda Ronstadt
    Album: Hummin' To Myself
    Label: Verve
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Linda Ronstadt

Produced by:

Jamie York

Comments [3]

FRED BROWNING from Kidderminster-UK

Only ever saw Linda the once unfortunatly,but that was the greatest concert i ever saw!.
it was in 1976 in birmingham UK,on her only ever UK tour,had i known she would not be coming back i would have gone to other gigs on that tour!.
the memory of that gig is still so fresh in my mind today!.

Mar. 20 2014 02:13 AM

I have always loved Linda Ronstadt's music. I recall one night when my sister and I were driving across Montana. Linda was singing to us. A song came on where Linda's incredible range was showcased. I had to pull over. My sister and I sat in awed silence, holding hands and not even breathing, we immersed ourselves in her beautiful voice. When it ended, neither of us could speak. Several minutes passed; we breathed deeply and I pulled back into traffic. So Powerful! A spiritual experience. She must have had to grieve to be able to be interviewed now. I will always love her.
Beary02

Oct. 02 2013 09:57 PM
Richard Kahn from NYC

I was sadly charmed by Linda Ronstadt's jealously of Emilylou Harris and her own insecurities about her talent. Emilylou Harris used to be an anxious performer herself.

Sep. 29 2013 12:05 PM

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