Thursday, July 15, 2010
Birthday gal Linda Ronstadt's career has seemingly touched on every kind of music, and today - even in her fifth decade as a performer and following 30 studio albums as a solo artist - she continues to bring her big voice with its inherent emotionalism and a flawless instinct for phrasing to whatever genre currently holds her fascination, from swing to folk to opera. Her twenty-seven Grammy nominations have yielded 11 wins in categories as diverse as Pop, Country, Tropical Latin, Children's, and Mexican-American.
She started out, though, as one of the first women in rock; her pioneering work with folk trio The Stone Poneys and later solo success has made her a heroine of numerous female singer-songwriters who came later. Whatever else she may have accomplished, Ronstadt was among the first women there, and unlike her contemporary and friend Janis Joplin, Ronstadt survived it. Not only that, but having worked with all the big names in American music since the mid-Sixties has earned her die-hard fans not just among regular people but bold-faced names as well. As late as 1992 she even went so far as to record an advertising jingle for her old friend Barney Gumble - in English and Spanish! - which hearkened back to the earlier days when she'd done just that to pay the bills before hitting the big time.
When Will I Be Loved appeared in 1974 on Ronstadt's fifth album, Heart Like a Wheel, which featured a smooth blend of rock and country that was the defining sound of the mid-Seventies, a genre better known today as AM Gold. Of all the songs of hers I could have featured - songs like You're No Good, Blue Bayou, or later works like Somewhere Out There or Don't Know Much - I chose this one for the most obvious reason of them all...
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