Linda Ronstadt, Who’s Singing Voice Was Stolen by Parkinson's Disease, Still Connects in `Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir’ (Video)

By Staff Reporter | September 17, 2013 12:19 PM EDT


Linda Ronstadt says Parkinson’s disease robbed her of the ability to sing, but she still has the power to connect. Linda Ronstadt’s voice soared over country and rock music for decades. Linda Ronstadt's new book, "Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir" is all about Linda Ronstadt's voice.

From the sweet croon of Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” to the ice-hot vengeance of “You’re No Good,” from the sexual independence of “Different Drum,” written by The Monkee’s Mike Nesmith, to her reworkings of Elvis Costello’s “Allison” to the Eagle’s “Desperado,” Linda Ronstadt’s voice took possession of the songs. Many of Linda Ronstadt’s interpretations have become signature versions of the songs she sings.

Linda Ronstadt released her new book, “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” through Simon and Schuster. In it, Linda Ronstadt tells great stories of a musical life on the road. She dishes on some Chateau Marmont hotel stories involving Keith Richards and Gram Parsons, but stays away from her personal life. Linda Ronstadt doesn’t mention the recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease that robbed her of her singing voice.

But musical Mexican-American Linda Ronstadt does wax poetically about her childhood in the beautiful Arizona desert.

Linda Ronstadt write “The only rule I imposed on myself, consciously or unconsciously, was to not try singing something that I hadn’t heard in the family living room before the age of ten.”
In the second phase of her career, Linda Ronstadt recorded vastly divergent styles. Linda Ronstadt inpreted songs by Gilbert and Sullivan, traditional Mexican music and the Great American Songbook

Linda Ronstadt spent one 1965 semester at Arizona State University before she lit out for the beaches of Southern California and sang in country-rock band, the Stone Poneys. Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys charted in 1967 with Monkee-with-the-cap-Mike Nesmith’s song “Different Drum.” Linda Ronstadt found other Southern California musicians like Jackson Browne, Chris Hillman, John David Souther, and the Eagles, before they were The Eagles, were Linda Ronstadt’s backup band.

Linda Ronstadt writes ““I never felt that rock and roll defined me. There was an unyielding attitude that came with the music that involved being confrontational, dismissive, and aggressive — or, as my mother would say, ungracious . . . I cringe when I think of some of the time I was less than gracious. It wasn’t how I was brought up.”

But it was always about the music, as Lowell George of Little Feat found out after inviting Linda Ronstadt to enjoy some of Southern California’s other temptations. Linda Ronstadt remembers saying “No, I didn’t want a Quaalude. I wanted to know the open tuning to a song of his.”

Linda Ronstadt was a music icon, selling millions of records in the 1970s, starting with her hit version of the Michael Nesmith (of the Monkees) song “Different Drum” with the Stone Poneys. Linda Ronstadt had country and pop hits with "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved." Linda Ronstadt showed her versatility by recording in many genres including Broadway and pop standards and mariachi music.

The country music legend was as well known for her relationships as she was for her big, big voice. Linda Ronstadt dated California Gov. Jerry Brown and filmmaker George Lucas. Linda Ronstadt got into some small controversy when she played a concert wearing a Boy Scout’s uniform.

Tagged :  blue bayou, you're no good, parkinsons disease, book, world news, Linda Ronstadt


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