Back in the 1970’s and 80’s Linda Ronstadt ruled the airwaves as the Queen of Rock and Roll. She was the whole package, an incredible voice that could take any song and just fly, and she was incredibly cute. Later on she went off that path and got into Broadway with “The Pirates of Penzance”, then singing the “Great American Songbook” and then later Mexican folk songs. I really respected all these moves because she veered off from the sure thing and followed her heart into what she really wanted to do which by the way, were mostly commercial as well as artistic successes. She gradually faded from my musical consciousness and when I saw her “Musical Memoir”, Simple Dreams, I had to read it.
She grew up, the daughter of a Tucson, Arizona Ranch and Hardware store owner, in a musical family. She loved music and became a fixture on the Tucson folk music scene and then left for California for the good of her career. There she bounced around several years trying different things out and ended up getting noticed when she was part of the Stone Poneys. From there it was just a matter of time and some extremely hard work before she made it big. On the way she had an education on ethically challenged record executives, grueling road trips, and vagaries of loyalties in the business.
In her book she gives us a lot of the inside story into her musical career and how she had to fight to convince people to stay with her as she followed her own instincts. Later on she talks about she is retired from the music business now and is raising her daughters in Arizona. I had no idea, and she doesn’t say so anywhere in the book, that she had Parkinson’s Disease and that it has made it impossible for her to sing. She is not moping around feeling sorry for herself. Despite the disease making everything hard, she is staying involved with her extended family and adopted daughters.
This is a great book and I recommend it highly.