The Linda Ronstadt Songbook is an eclectic one. She has had one of the most varied careers of anybody in the recording industry. She was one of the first breakout stars of the 60s to help invent the cross-over genre Folk Rock, and in the 70s, she was the first female solo act to play (and sell out) arena stages.
|Ronstadt's recordings of old standards were innovative, even|
radical; pop superstars had no interest in such music until
Linda struck gold with the oldies.
In the 80s, in the midst of her pop career, she teamed up with Nelson Riddle to release a trio of albums of standards, a move highly unusual for a pop-rock superstar. The project was an unexpected smash, reinvigorating Riddle's career and bringing attention to the forgotten hits of the 30s and 40s.
|Linda received the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement|
award in 2011. She took the ranchera music of her youth,
blended it with a country sound, and invented "Mexican
Linda also had great success with Latin music.
|Our gal was a good collaborator, and provided substantial items with other stars such as Dolly and Emmylou.|
|Ronstadt surprised everyone with her performance as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, displaying an impressive soprano range. The production moved from Central Park to Broadway and ran for years. (One of my favorite Dance Parties comes from the version taped in the park, go here to see Kevin Kline and Rex Smith stop the show.) Linda received a Tony nomination (she lost the award to Lauren Bacall) and a Golden Globe nod when the film version was released.|
|An attempt at legit opera, as Mimi|
in La Boheme, flopped.
But she did more than simply cover earlier songs, she reinterpreted them so thoroughly that everybody thought they were new (at least, I did). This week's Dance Party is an example; Linda's recording revived interest in a long-forgotten Buddy Holly song from the late 50s. The tune has since been covered by everybody from Paul McCartney to Zooey Deschanel. The Beatles sang it, as did Alvin and the Chipmunks. But Ronstadt's is surely the definitive version. It's very sad to know she will never be singing it again.