Lovely Linda: A Playlist of Linda Ronstadt Deep Cuts
Linda Ronstadt spent her early years on a ranch in Tucson, but her voice resonates worldwide. Early on, she combined country and rock, but she became a pop superstar with songs like “You’re No Good” and “Just One Look.” Never content to stay in one lane, she went on to devote records to new wave, jazz, standards and traditional Mexican canciónes.
Though Parkinson’s disease prevents her from singing these days, Ronstadt still uses her voice to tell her unique story. On April 26, she heads to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for A Conversation with Linda, a multimedia look at her four-decade career. In preparation for the event, we dive into the Ronstadt vault and dig up some overlooked gems for a deep-cuts playlist.
“Remington Electric Razor”
This brief commercial jingle from the late ’60s suggests what a full-length collaboration between mustachioed art-rocker Frank Zappa and the golden-voiced Ronstadt might have sounded like. Over Zappa’s manic arrangements of guitar and bass, Ronstadt imbues even a clunky phrase like “down goes the shaving head” with warmth.
“She’s a Very Lovely Woman”
After breaking from her band The Stone Poneys in 1968, Ronstadt embarked on a solo career. Why this dramatic, strings-laden, non-album 1971 single hasn’t been included in most retrospective collections is baffling – it showcases Ronstadt at the height of her powers.
“Rock Me on the Water”
On this Jackson Browne-penned cut, Ronstadt is backed by young Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, who recognized something unique about their dynamic. They went on to form the Eagles, crediting Ronstadt with giving them their start.
“Where Is My Love”
Ronstadt is no stranger to a duet – over the years she’s paired up with Aaron Neville, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra and many more – but this raw and gorgeous ballad with progressive country singer Joe Ely hasn’t been properly released since its recording in 1987, only surfacing on SoundCloud in 2014.
“Are You Tired of Me”
In 1987, longtime friends and frequent collaborators Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris joined Ronstadt for a full album of country, gospel and soul called Trio, which they followed with Trio II in 1999. In 2016, a boxed set coupled the albums with a third disc of outtakes and unreleased songs like “Are You Tired of Me,” a torch song good enough for inclusion on any of Ronstadt’s classic albums.