Linda Ronstadt for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Linda was as eclectic as musical shapeshifters like David Bowie and Neil Young, but because she didn’t write her own stuff, she’s been dismissed.

One of my friends, remembering her popularity in the late 1970s, both musically and visually – posters of her image were on more few dorm room walls – wrote: “Now that we know Linda Ronstadt is living with Parkinson’s, can we please finally put her in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame?”

Not sure about whether induction there really matters; it certainly does not diminish her remarkable talent over decades. Still, I support the notion of her getting into the Hall, and if it takes a sympathy vote because she no longer can sing to achieve it, so be it. But I think she has enough bona fides to get there without pity.

She had tremendous commercial success in the folk-rock milieu in the 1970s, yet ventured off to do the Pirates of Penzance; two albums of music of her Mexican father, in Spanish; three albums of standards arranged by Nelson Riddle; some great duets with Aaron Neville and Emmylou Harris, among others; the Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou, and much more.

Linda was as eclectic as musical shapeshifters like David Bowie and Neil Young, but because she didn’t write her own stuff, she’s been dismissed. You’ll find her on albums as varied as Randy Newman’s Faust and Philip Glass’s Songs of Liquid Days; from the latter, here is Forgetting, also featuring the Roches and the Kronos String Quartet. She’s one of the great backup vocalists, with Neil Young on Heart of Gold, and Paul Simon on Under African Skies, e.g.

It’s also true that I like Linda Ronstadt – not personally – based on what I’ve heard about her. I hear she’s a big donator to repertory theater in Tucson, for instance. Her birthday is the same as my wife’s (Linda’s a bit older, though).

She inspired a buycott by me. A buycott, as described by Arthur, is “to go out of my way to support businesses that support the issues I care about instead of boycotting the ones that oppose those issues.” In 2004, she was escorted from a Las Vegas casino after she had dedicated a song to the filmmaker Michael Moore. Her ejection and the attitude of the audience annoyed me so much that I soon ordered from Amazon The Linda Ronstadt Box Set, which is great, especially discs three, “Collaborations, ” and four, “Rarities.” Though the collection ignores her hits such as Heat Wave, Tracks of My Tears, That’ll Be the Day, It’s So Easy, and most of the Hasten Down the Wind album, it was a very satisfying purchase.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

5 thoughts on “Linda Ronstadt for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”

  1. A great story about Linda Ronstadt is told about her cover of Elvis Costello’s “Alison”. Elvis was an angry young man who despised music superstars like Ronstadt, when asked about her version of his song he told an interviewer, It made me a lot of money!” Linda wrote a note to Costello and asked him to send her more songs, “Think of the money!”, she wrote.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Roger. You know what I Linda fan I am and I had not heard the news. Very sad. I totally agree about the RR Hall of Fame, although I’m a little peeved that the list of snubs in turn snubbed the Go-Gos, another RRHOF snub. I also think a case can be made to nominate Linda to the Country Music Hall of Fame as well. By the way, she did another Spanish-language album, called Frenesi. It’s in the vein of the Riddle albums and quite good. It’s probably the least well-known of her output.

  3. Ronstadt earned my respect early. After signing with Asylum in 1973 and putting out “Don’t Cry Now,” someone at Capitol, her previous label, did the math and found out that she owed them one more album. A lot of acts would have handed over a stack of outtakes or a live set. Instead, she did something that turned out to be “Heart Like a Wheel,” which spent nearly a year on the charts and made her a legitimate superstar.

  4. Very sad news about Linda’s illness. Though I can’t say I’m an avid fan, Canciones de mi Padre remains one of my favourite albums and her performance with Kevin Kline in The Pirates of Penzance one of my favourite films.

  5. She was harassed because she dedicated a song to Michael Moore? Didn’t know about that. I’ll be sure to purchase something by her. And if I ever get a chance to screw over the Aladin Resort Casino I will go out of my way to do so.

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