Thursday, March 24, 2011

All Hail Linda Ronstadt

So while writing my American Idol post last night, I went on YouTube and grabbed Linda Ronstadt's version of  Heatwave to compare her electric take on that Motown hit with This Megia's rather tepid cover.  I don't know how or why this happens, but it's easy to forget some of the seminal artists of past decades as we move forward, and Ronstadt is one of those who has faded in the background.  But with young English singer Adele almost single-handedly keeping the art of singing alive for this generation, I thought it would be good to take a look back at one of the great voices of the past generation.

When I think of Ronstadt's most moving vocals, two songs compete for the top spot, Long Long Time and Different Drum.  They both have a slight country-tinged sadness and longing mixed with some of the most powerful pipes this side of opera.  The note at 2:40 on the first video still gives me chills. 

Linda Ronstadt isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Let that percolate for a bit.  Is it sexism?  Is it because she was "only" a singer?  I'm not going to start bashing who is in the HOF to make my point, but Ronstadt was a dynamic vocalist who handled a range of genres and had commercial as well as critical success.  What else do they want?


  1. Ronstadt's "Long Long Time" was one of my fovorites. It is such a beautiful song. Love it!!!

  2. Why isn't Linda Ronstadt in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame? All the other Southern California and similar classic rock stars are - Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, CSNY, James Taylor, Santana, Jackson Brown, Joni Mitchell, etc...

    One of the arguments has been that she didn't write her own music or music made popular by other singers. Well, then the majority of rock 'n roll inductees shouldn't have been inducted because many of them sang and didn't write.

    And many of the greatest singers that Ronstadt's a peer of, like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston et al, are not considered lousy artists just because they weren't songwriters or frequently sang music that was previously made popular before they sang them.

    And yes, Linda was a rocker. She was The Queen of Rock 'n Roll hands down throughout the entire 1970s. Janice Joplin, Grace Slick and Tina Turner were in the 1960s, and Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Heart, Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry were in the late 1970s and 1980s, after Linda paved the way.

    Her remakes were as good as, better, or close to being as good as the originals.

    The critics and public have always held her to a different standard than other artists, and unfairly. In the early 1980s, Ronstadt was criticized by some (mainly rock critics) for playing two concerts, as a replacement for Frank Sinatra, inSouth Africa under apartheid, at a time when Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Tina Turner, Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and Cher were also performing there. Yet no one slammed those artists for singing in So. Africa.

    And she's been criticized for being a dilletante and switching music genres and images (successfully), but when David Bowie, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Blondie, et al do it, they are complimented.

    So getting back to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame snub, what's the holdup? I don't get it.

    And by the way, Heart, Pat Benatar, and Stevie Nicks (solo) are still not in the Hall of Fame either, although Aretha Franklin, Madonna and Abba are (all great artists, but not rockers).

  3. It may do more good for Linda Ronstadt not to be in a mostly all male dominated club that they call the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It makes her even more special in my humble opinion that she's not there because it'll bring more attention to her, in a good way. Johnny Carson said once that she had the single more beautiful voice he had ever heard. Amen! She's got the voice of an angel! What an instrument her voice is.