November 2, 2013

"I first heard Linda's record on the radio in Philadelphia, while riding in a limo with the Monkees."

"No one in the car believed I had written the song. Linda did more for that song than the Greenbriar Boys' version. She infused it with a different level of passion and sensuality. Coming from the perspective of a woman instead of a guy, the song had a new context. You sensed Linda had personally experienced the lyrics—that she needed to be free."

Everything you ever wanted to know about "Different Drum."

ADDED: Linda Ronstadt has gone public talking about her Parkinson's Disease:
Well, as I got older I got Parkinson’s disease, so I couldn’t sing at all. That’s what happened to me. I was singing at my best strength when I developed Parkinson’s. I think I’ve had it for quite a while.... I’m 67 now, so it may have started as early as 51.

Are you going by your singing or other—

By my singing. They have a new way of diagnosing Parkinson’s; it’s with an algorithm and they record your voice and compare it to an algorithm. That’s a way they can get an early diagnosis, but it’s not in general use yet. I know somebody that has access to the research, so since my voice has been recorded over the years I might be able to pinpoint when it actually developed, and I think it’s been going on for a long time. I was sick for a long time, but as you get older you do develop aches and pains, and it’s harder to walk and stand up and you get stiff. You know, my hands were shaking and I thought, Oh, I’m old.

So you didn’t get that checked immediately.

It didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I just went to my regular doctor, my chiropractor and said, just, my back hurts. [Laughs.]

32 comments:

Jimmy said...

I remember "Different Drum" as a ho-hum but listenable with lyrics that certainly did not help this adolescent understand what on earth was going on in the minds of females.

Then, a few years later, "When Will I Be Loved" came out and it felt like she was being more direct, and really belting it out. Plus she was hotter looking then. I wanted to be the one to answer her question. I'm sure I was not alone in this

Ann Althouse said...

"Then, a few years later, "When Will I Be Loved" came out and it felt like she was being more direct, and really belting it out. Plus she was hotter looking then."

Well, "Different Drum" was saying she wasn't "in the market" for love. "When Will I Be Loved" is her begging for love, so these songs are appealing to different listener's needs.

"Different Drum" was a guy's song that gained a liberating meaning when sung by a female. It was the white equivalent of "Respect."

Titus said...

I love Blue Bayou. We sang that song in elementary school.

David said...

The fabulous Ronstadt was the very best. The disease has taken her voice but wow was she wonderful. She could sing anything. And the most delicious looking young woman you could ever see. The voice. The eyes, so direct and intelligent. I loved you, Linda, and so did many others.

Ann Althouse said...

When my son John was 2, he was absolutely in love with the Linda Ronstadt of the "Get Closer" album. He would listen to it while looking at the cover and asked to have it played over and over.

After he got older, he never once listened to that album and never showed any interest in her at all.

But when he was 2, if you asked him "What do you want to do?" he'd get a mischievous smile and say "Do… Ronstadt!"

C Stanley said...

Love her duets with Aaron Neville. All My Lifewas the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding.

Tank said...

I always think of her with a group of female "rock" singers I liked who had big distinctive voices.

Ronstadt, Cher, Slick.

Bob R said...

Heart Like a Wheel was one of my favorite albums. She really had her pick of the best songwriters in LA at the time and always had great musicians behind her.

And she did a great Simpson's cameo.

campy said...

I like her albums of the Great American Songbook. Her rendition of Rodgers & Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me" is just spectacular.

SteveR said...

I was in love with her, especially as a 18-21 yr old when I was listening to those great albums of the mid 70s. She was beautiful but mysterious and her voice was the best. I saw her opening for James Taylor and Neil Young and as a headliner. No matter her Moonbeam on mindset, she gave comfort to my aching heart.

William said...

Not a lot of women get to look like Linda Ronstadt, and, of those few, not very many get to sing that well.....I can't recall any other singer who was so successful in so many different genres: Latin, pop, c&w, rock, even operettas. Her talent and beauty were rare enough, but she was unique in that shape shifting ability. Eat your heart out Debby Harry.....Sorry to hear about the Parkinson's, but God gave her a lot of golden bowls before he handed her a bucket of shit.

Sam Hall said...

Anybody who dates Jerry Brown doesn't have a brain.

Cedarford said...

Wonderful, distinctive voice. She could do the big notes, but what made so many of her songs remarkable is she brought emotional resonance with the fans to a new fine level.
You believed she was emotionally devestated to the point of shattering over a great love spurned -in her old classic "Long, long, time". Hushed.."And I never drew, ONE ,,look from you"
"Blue Bayou" was made a special place of solace and beauty and longing for her...and she made her cover even more notable than Orbisons vocal gymnastics original.

"When will I be loved" - you got it...It was clear. Ronstadt made herself a vessel of heartfelt, belted out emotional expression that millions of women "got", right away.

Carol said...

I was a big fan, from Different Drum forward. Even the album with Silver Threads. At that time before Heart like a Wheel she just couldn't seem to catch a break.

I was a frustrated singer myself, and she was as close as a model as I could find, in range.I seem to remember reading that she herself was intimidated at the time by the biggest voice in the business, Aretha Franklin. If .you couldn't sing like Aretha, you sucked

No one could sing like her, though it seems like there are nothing but white Aretha clones everywhere now.

heyboom said...

Different Drum made me a Linda Ronstadt fan the first time I heard it, but I never thought of the lyrics in any philosophical or sociological way. I loved the melody and arrangement and I really loved her voice. Sad that she has lost that now.

A. Shmendrik said...

I was a HS student when I saw her perform in Milwaukee, as the Heart Like a Wheel album was breaking out (~1974.) I had a massive crush on her. It was slightly attenuated by all the Jerry Brown crap and by her appearance at Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Gala. There was very poor stage lighting (lots of high angle and no fill) and her face appeared pock marked, and the bubble just burst.

Fritz said...

"Anybody who dates Jerry Brown doesn't have a brain. "

Linda Ronstadt was the best thing Jerry Brown ever did.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Linda Ronstadt has a voice makes ya think vou've died and gone to heaven. Like Lola Beltran.

Lost all personal respect for her however when she insulted paying customers with her politics.

Her choice.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I take Ronstadt's version of Different Drum (one of my three or four favorite songs, probably, though I'm not a big music person) pretty much at its face value. She is not in the market for someone who wants only to have love for her. Having loving feelings for several females is different from having caring feelings for several females; the former is only natural, especially in better males (though it is not what makes the males better, at least if by loving feelings one means those feelings that have genetic consequences), but caring for several females is mostly not morally ideal. Not being willing to be reined in I suppose is more referring to being limited by demanding marriage than to being limited by guys dispensing loving feelings as a kind of carrot-dangling-on-end-of-string weapon.

The song as originally written and played by Nesmith is more difficult for me to interpret. The song doesn't sound as good and the lyrics are harder to interpret, as though it be confused. To me it sounds more like a song to someone who is very alike. Seems like the powers that be are more suspicious of relationships between people whose beauty lies in similar places (which is a different phenomenon from relationships between people who have similar notions of beauty), which may well make such relationships more trying and dangerous for the participants, imho. I don't know offhand what else fear of a female not loving others would signify. I mean, it's not as though it wouldn't be strange for a guy to want a female in love with him to be promiscuous. It's really quite easy to confuse things with their opposites, especially if something else be confused. Vaguely (a girl who feels she only loves one male probably very much wants sex with him?), I feel that Nesmith (perhaps from being overwhelmed by external? deprecation of his feelings) also probably overestimated the extent to which marriage with the female was what was or necessarily should be at stake--maybe she would have loved him anyway without reining him at all, which makes Ronstadt's twist of the song that much more appropriate. But sometimes the powers that be are too strong; what is right is not necessarily the same as what is good.

It just occurred to me that "traveling to a different drum" could on some level indeed be referring to both traveling to one drum that is highly different from the drums to which almost all other people travel. That makes poetic sense.

EDH said...

Did she ever sing any songs written by Peter Tork?

It's sad to see rockers age.

Anybody notice how much Elton John is starting to look like that large ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Schneider, the Monkees kept in their apartment?

MathMom said...

Can you believe I have never heard "Heart Like a Wheel"? It must have been released about 1976 or 77, because that's when I relocated to Saudi Arabia and lost contact with half a decade of American culture.

So I watched a YouTube of it, and remembered how lovely her voice was. I also read the "political activism" part of the wiki on Ronstadt. I believe this is why Laura Ingraham wrote "Shut Up and Sing".

You can like these people better if you don't know them.

Jason said...

Absolutely wonderful singer. Plus, she regularly hired David Lindley as a side musician, so Double-Plus Good.

I loved loved LOVED the collaborations she did with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris... Two albums I know about. Trio and the other one. Beautiful music, beautifully executed.

richardsson said...

I went to see her live on a date at Doug's Troubadour in Hollywood back in 67-68 when she was still with the Stone Poneys. I knew that night she was going to be big.

richardsson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
St. George said...

Here she is from a 1980 HBO special.

"You cain't buy mah love wid money, cuz' I nevah wuz that kind!" (15:50)

Michael said...

Stone Ponies.

CatherineM said...

Linda was kind of a jerk the last few years she could sing. Wasting peoples time and money with her political diatribes at concerts. However, her voice was a gem.

What I dig about her was that she wasn't afraid to try different types of music. As long as it was good.

Think Trio with Dolly and Emmylou. Awesome albums.

Think singing torch songs with Nelson Riddle Orchestra. I bought that album for my Dad when my dad and I didn't - still don't - have anything in common musically. He was big band. I was rock, The Who especially (he bought me my first pair of headphones when I bought my first non Olivia Newton-John album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC when I was 11). This was an album we both could listen too. I loved her voice and how she can hold a note. Beyonce can't hold a note like Linda.

Great, great singer. Real shame.

CatherineM said...

Oh, and speaking of album covers. Don't know the album - suppose I could google it - but the one where she was wearing roller skates? I must have been 7 and I thought cool roller skates! I wanted that album because she was wearing roller skates. : )

richardsson said...

@ Michael
Yes, Stone Ponies would be the correct spelling of the words. But, Stone Poneys was how the Stone Poneys spelled their name. Pedantry must give way to rock and roll.

MathMom said...

Here she is singing in The Pirates of Penzance. Crikey! What a set of pipes!

William said...

A lot of her songs went mp3, at least for me. That's the true sign of immortality. It's a shame that she can no longer sing. Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Cook, Sinead O'Connor all did some fine work after they got fat. Fat women know something about the sorrows of love lost that is beyond the comprehension of young, beautiful women.

Clyde said...

What's most amazing to me from that article is that she came in cold on the changes to the song's tempo, not playing with her regular band, and they nailed it on the second take.