Wednesday, September 25, 2013
A shared love of music was one of the things that brought Tim and me together almost thirty years ago: certainly the rock ‘n roll of our youth, but also Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Linda Ronstadt, who in the mid-1980s discovered the Great American Songbook. Ronstadt’s music—especially her heart-wrenching albums Hasten Down the Wind and Prisoner in Disguise—had gotten me through many sad interludes as a young adult. Then Tim came along and suddenly we were slow-dancing to Linda’s rendition of the 1930s song “What’s New?”—one of the most romantic memories of our early courtship. Ronstadt’s music has always been there, in good times and bad.
In August, she shocked her fans by announcing that she's had Parkinson’s disease for several years and, as a result, can no longer sing. I was, therefore, very worried that last night’s Writer’s Bloc event with Ronstadt and interviewer Patt Morrison might be maudlin and filled with regret. But, happily, I was completely wrong. Linda was cheerful, intelligent and full of life as she reminisced about her bilingual childhood in Arizona (“I thought people sang in Spanish and spoke in English”) as well as her successful career as one of rock’s leading female singers. She shared how her back-up band—which went on to become the Eagles—was haphazardly pulled together and told a funny story illustrating how cheap her famous former boyfriend, California governor Jerry Brown, was. She also spoke in favor of immigrant reform and art education in schools.
If anyone had any doubt when they walked into the theater, they now know Linda Ronstadt is a liberal Democrat, a banner she has always been proud to wave. But this is one smart woman who won’t let any single political ideology, musical style or disease define her. It was wonderful hearing her speak.
For an excellent review of the evening, I highly recommend today’s entry in Kevin Roderick’s blog L.A. Observed. And, yes, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were there last night, seated two rows away from us. Tom literally sat on the edge of his seat for most of the event, while Rita tweeted much of what Ronstadt said.
Linda’s book Simple Dreams is now available at a bookstore or library near you.
Linda Ronstadt's recent interview with Diane Sawyer