It was an album of music of its time. The scribbler of the article that caused me to attempt this piece, Peter Vincent, described it as being one of ‘…classic, cheesy 1980’s power pop ballads…’ even if he felt the duetists ‘…share a tremendous empathetic quality in their voices that is irresistible…’ Seems to me he’s having it a bit both ways. Still, at the place I was at then, it just seemed perfectly to reflect my state in 1989 – as well as the years till the watershed event in my life. Back then the world had lost its normal routines for me and for this punter, a life in transition was more than just a little bit scary. I was floundering and I knew it. Eventually, as clichéd as it sounds, but nonetheless remarkably, redemption came in the form of the most special woman in the world. The result of this occurrence being that the album has rarely emerged out of its case since. Would I purchase it now? Not likely – Nick Cave is warbling away on my music machine as I compose this. Circumstances change; tastes change.
Previous to her collaboration with Aaron Neville on ‘Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind’ (even its title is so passé ), Linda was already a favourite. A purveyor of Laurel Canyon country rock, her clear, faultless voice on 33⅓ revolutions per minute was often emanating from my speakers – ‘You’re No Good’, ‘When Will I Be Loved’, ‘Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me’, ‘Distant Drum’. These, and others, were amongst the litany of hits from the doe eyed lover of then (and now) Governor of California, Jerry Brown, ruling the MOR airwaves of the world back in the day. I purchased later albums too on the new CD format – collections of songs where she teamed up with such diverse luminaries as sweet Emmylou, Dolly and Nelson Riddle. She also recorded in Spanish, due to her part-Hispanic background. In her pomp she won ten Grammys, but now Mother Time has caught up with her more than most. She has Parkinsons has Linda Ronstadt. It has taken her voice – her incredible voice.
Vincent, in his interview with her for ‘The Silent Songbird’ article, seemed to harp on about her affliction, wanting her to answer in depth about it. He describes her as responding testily at times. If I was the proto-diva I would be thoroughly pissed off too, particularly as she was on the promotions treadmill trying to talk up the recent release of a collection of past collaborations with other noteworthy trillers. Wouldn’t you be peeved too if you knew exactly that what afflicts can only get worse and ultimately cause one’s demise? In a way it already has. But she does pass on this lovely quote – that Australia is ‘…the dream that was promised by Southern California, but never delivered….it’s like delivering pizza. They delivered it to the wrong place.’ I like that.
When our interviewer quizzes her on how, in light of that quote, she would regard our present leader and his treatment of asylum seekers, her response was a pithy one stating that ‘immigrants’ ‘…are the best people because they’ve come the furtherest and they’ve come through the most adversity. That’s what adds to society. They’re going to be the hardest working, best people.’ That’s her family background in the US – so she has some affinity with those suffering under the Abbott/Morrison regime of callous cruelty.
The new collection features the Aaron Neville duets plus numerous others. Same question – will I buy it? I picked it up in JBs, then put it back. It just didn’t seem to be the time any more – even if tracks like ‘Don’t Know Much’ would remind me of how far I’ve come – how lucky I’ve been.
Thank you Linda.
Peter Vincent’s article = http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/linda-ronstadt-the-silent-songbird-20140410-36e7g.html
Linda and Aaron – ‘Don’t Know Much’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD6TfEWtIYI