The Greatest Rock Songs From Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt on the Midnight Special Live, 1973 - gizamax / Youtube
Dubbed as “Rock’s Venus”, Linda Ronstadt is without any doubt, one of rock music’s greatest female artists. Ronstadt was a jack of all trades, able to assimilate any genre, from pop and opera, to country and rock. In fact, she is instrumental for bringing back early 50’s and 60’s rhythm n’ blues and rock n’ roll tracks to the aggressive rock scene of the 70’s, bridging a generational gap of music. Known for her powerful vocal quality that made her one of the most versatile singers to date, Linda Ronstadt was an unstoppable force. But Parkinson’s eventually took its way with her, leaving her unable to sing, retiring in 2011 for good. In remembrance of her legacy, here are some of the best Linda Ronstadt songs ever recorded.
“Just One Look” – 1978
Borrowing from Doris Troy’s original, Linda Ronstadt took the rhythm n’ blues track to another level with here vocals full of vitality, and a lightweight arrangement that perfectly complement each other’s melodies. Linda’s rustic charm brought the song to no. 42 on the charts, the highest it ever got among the multiple versions released.
“Tumbling Dice” – 1978
From The Rolling Stones’ 1972 hit, Ronstadt shook the status quo with her fearless version, with the opening lines changed to “People try to rape me. Always think I’m crazy.” Jagger’s decision to lend the song to Ronstadt because he wanted to hear her sing more hard rock tracks went well, carrying the heavy progression easily along her powerful vocal parts.
“Willin” – 1974
Linda Ronstadt’s interpretation of the trucker anthem by Little Feat was a poignant one, to say the least. The country rock arrangement fit her style almost seamlessly, giving the track some heavy soul with her powerful vocals. The serene progression is dosed with hints of solos and slide guitar, giving it tasteful accents all over.
“It’s So Easy” – 1977
From Buddy Holly’s catalog, Linda Ronstadt transformed another classic into a modern and more relevant version in her era’s rock scene. Ronstadt’s version has that grit yet finesse only possible with her participation, with rich guitar progressions that add weight to the fun-filled track.
“Desperado” – 1973
While widely known for being one of the Eagles most successful records, it was Linda Ronstadt’s version that popularized the tune, according to Don Henley himself. The Eagles were backing Ronstadt in the early seventies before becoming a separate act themselves. Ronstadt’s version is poignant, her magical voice adding a touch of profound sorrow to the track.
“Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line” – 1969
One of Ronstadt’s concert staples, the track was a gender-bent version of Jimmy Bryant’s “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. Ronstadt showed her disdain for the state of women’s rights with her version, cleverly wrapped in a country rock jam that’s bizarrely lively.
“When Will I Be Loved” – 1975
A tad different from the Everly Brothers’ original track, Ronstadt’s version features verse alternations that gives it a rather distinct quality. Paired with her crisp and rich vocals, Ronstadt blasts through the track, giving it such raw emotion and power in the form of complementing melodies.
“You’re No Good” – 1974
Taking Dee Dee Warwick’s original version into her own signature style, Linda Ronstadt gave it a kick with a powerful, intricate rock arrangement, accented by her growling implementation of vocals. The country rock record was a culmination of several takes of its riff variations before coming into agreement with its final arrangement.
“Hurts So Bad” – 1980
The placid progression with guitar twangs and its calculated pauses before giving in to the chorus, echoes along with Ronstadt’s powerfully rich and sultry vocals, each iteration increasing in intensity, with her scat-singing fragments adding to the weight of the heavy arrangement.
“Blue Bayou” – 1977
Linda Ronstadt had the guts to take the Roy Orbison original, and take it to no.3 on the charts. Her vocals shine on her version, with the lazy sunset-themed progression slaving along to her laid back parts. The chorus kicks in, where Ronstadt unfurls her poignant power, along with Don Henley’s complementing vocal parts.