So i never did get around to making a plug for Linda Ronstadt for my severely lapsed Best Cover Artists Ever series.  And now she quite sadly has Parkinson’s and can’t sing a note anymore. So a bit of a tribute is in order i think – she wasn’t a songwriter but a world class singer and cover artist who did very proud the bulk of artists she covered. Imagine, to sing like that with no autotune. You can hear maybe a bit too much 70’s California production in some of the songs, but that was also her era and the artists that she covered as well. They’re none the worse for it either, really. Peace and best wishes to you, Linda. And thank you.

1. Stone Poneys– Different Drum

2. Love Has No Pride – got me through an embarassingly tortured and emo adolesence.

3. Long Long Time – ditto. Maybe the best cry in your beer song ever.

4. Willin – Little Feat cover. Probably my favorite version of it too.

5. You Can Close Your Eyes – James Taylor cover. Equal to if not better than his.

6. Rock Me on the Water – Jackson Browne cover. ditto.

7. Tracks of My Tears – Smokey cover. Does it proud.

8. Walk Away Renee – Left Banke cover. There are better covers out there.

9. First Cut is the Deepest – Cat Stevens cover. Better than Sheryl Crow’s. Still like Rod’s better though. (now there’s a candidate for best cover artist.)

10. Alison – Elvis Costello cover. A fine one too.

11. I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton cover. Nice intermediary between Dolly’s lovely and delicate original, and Whitney’s foghorn.

12. Desperado – Eagles cover. Better than theirs.

13. Poor Poor Pitiful Me – Warren Zevon cover. Great cover.

14. Tumbling Dice – Stones cover. Does them proud.

13 thoughts on “Linda

  1. Amy: I’m another Linda fan, I have a collection of her albums that include some of your posts plus a few others that include a trio of LP’s that she recorded in the early 80’s that are among my favorites; ‘What’s New’, ‘Lush Life’ and ‘For Sentimental Reasons’ – all accompanied by the Nelson Riddle orchestra and all with prominently featured jazz artists. They’re a trio of classic standards from the Great American Songbooks and are all wonderful.
    And she followed those with ‘Canciones de mi padre’, all sung in the language that she grew up with, Mexican/Spanish.
    Thanks for posting the playlist, it’s better that we appreciate artists while they’re still with us, I hate reading/writing obituaries.

    • I had those early 70’s albums that saw me through my teens, and then kind of lost her with the Spanish albums. I bet her American Songbook covers are a lot better than Rod’s too! But yeah, i’m a huge fan. Nice to know i’m not alone there. Although i think she was probably bigger here than in the UK, don’t know how she fared over there back in the day. Or for that matter, how the other SoCal artists at the time did either.

    • Which confirms my suspicion that she may not have been so big over on that side of the pond. I’m glad that you enjoyed though – would think that some of it may have veered a bit too much towards the country for you taste (and there is some that goes way too close to country and jazz for my own).

      Dunno if she ever did any real blues, but i would have loved to have heard her try.

      • It probably isn’t something I would seek out, but I’m not averse to listening and I can appreciate the quality. I like hearing new things (well, new to me, that is!)

  2. Thanks for this Amy, that cover of Walk Away Renee with Ann Savoy brings me out in goose bumps every time I hear it – the inlaws lent me the Adieu False Heart album a while back and it’s become a firm favorite. Sad to think that it could now be her last release.

    Something that is quite different to anything on your list is the wonderful stuff she did with Philip Glass in the mid-80’s – the track “Forgetting” is particularly haunting and remains one of my proudest RR A-listings (for RRSA Forgetting appropriately enough) – the combination of Linda’s sweet vocals and Glass’s ethereal minimalism is mesmerising – in case you missed it, here tis:

    • Thanks for that, I will have a listen – maybe you and GF can put up some of the post – 70’s left coast stuff that she did. I never kept up with her after that.

      Interesting though – on that Walk Away Renee (one of my favorite songs ever) (that was her last release?) – you can hear how her voice has changed a bit on that. And that’s incidentally the cover i’d chuck in there – it’s pretty to me, but maybe a bit over syrupy and misses the pain and longing i hear in the Four Tops cover. Then again it’s entirely possible that it’s too subtle for me. I’m not big on Rikki Lee Jones’ cover either – it’s possible you like that one too.

      I did stumble across this last night – had forgotten about and how much i loved this Karla Bonoff cover –

  3. When you can sing the phone book, it must be actually kind of hard to decide what to bite the bullet and cover. I’d say her instincts and choices were pretty good though.

  4. Amy donds to everything you’ve listed here. I saw Linda with the Stone Poneys in ’67. I was 18 & to say I was smitten well understates the case. I walked into Ronstadt’s hardware in Tucson just so I could walk on the same floors she did. Rode up in the elevator in Winterland just after her and her manager and I still dream her perfume. I’ve seen her many times since & her voice is just delicious. Yeah they were all covers but in her hands she somehow made them a bit of her own. She also did Hank Williams pretty well as this fine clip from the Dolly Parton Show ( with Emmy Lou backing) illustrates. Thanks for remembering.

    • Ha, i forgot you were originally from AZ! Guess i should be glad Mick and Keith were from Dartford instead of south Jersey 🙂

      She really was beautiful though wasn’t she. Pipes to match and seems a nice person too. Had a fling with Jim Carrey when he was 21 and she was in her 40’s. Apparently she’s just turned 67, so she would have been too old to be in school with you.

      Glad to help bring back your memories for you.

      • No, not from AZ. Nevada boy all the way. Did a bunch of work out of Tucson in the 70s. I’m 64 so I would have been the gawky freshmen to her dreamy Senior.

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