Tag Archives: pop music

CULTURE: Linda Ronstadt and Parkinson’s

Linda Ronstadt says that Parkinson’s Disease has robbed her of her singing voice.

This is such sad news. Linda Ronstadt is one of America’s greatest pop singers and has been since the 1970s.

Heart Like a Wheel was a profound album, with enormous impact, I always thought. (Dark End of the Street  just kills)

It was huge in the guitar twangin’ country rock scene of my hometown of Claremont, California in the 1970s and we played the hell out of it at my house when I was growing up. It contained one of my favorite songs from that genre, Willin’, by the master, Lowell George.

The album was the first inkling, too, of a talent Linda Ronstadt displayed throughout her career of finding good songs and songwriters.

She was an early adopter of Warren Zevon, for one. Zevon’s Carmelita is one of the most evocative songs ever of Los Angeles; in this case, the 1970s street junkie scene in Echo Park. Simple, succinct, image-based songwriting, and thus great storytelling.

The other fine thing about Linda Ronstadt the singer is how she started out in California country rock, but early on refused to be pigeon-holed. That can’t have been easy for a woman in the music industry.

Instead, she recorded big band music, oldies, Mexican rancheros and just a lot of solid straight pop music.

Through Canciones de mi Padre I discovered Cuco Sanchez, with Gritenme Piedras del Campo – a Mexican blues if ever there was one. (Cuco Sanchez is, btw, a singer not to be missed.)

Her work with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton is some of the best stuff any of those ladies have done. Check out For a Dancer, the song by Jackson Browne, that she recorded with Emmylou.

We’ll not be hearing her likes around here for a while, I believe.

On a personal note, Linda Ronstadt has always been so supportive of my writing and reporting. I can’t say how wonderful it is to have spoken to one of the icons of my musical generation and have her tell me how much she loved my books.

I appreciated it enormously and lived on it like food for a few days.

My Claremont High School pal, Janet Stark, her assistant, put us in touch. Thanks Janet and thanks very much to you, Linda. Here’s wishing you the best.

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MIGRANTS: Hernan Hernandez, Los Tigres del Norte

Today is the birthday of Hernan Hernandez, bass player and singer for Los Tigres del Norte.

I toured several times with the band to shows around Mexico, seeing parts of the country that I’d never have seen had it not been for their great generosity. I was already a huge fan by the time I met them, and knew the words to many of their songs.

They remain, I think, the best band out of Mexico — The  Only Band That Matters, isn’t that what they used to say about The Clash. Same with Los Tigres. Great chroniclers, amazing reps of migrant Mexico, too. Here’s a story I did from those years on Los Tigres for LA Times Magazine. Always wanted to write a book about the band….

Anyway, one night, Hernan was sick from, I think, food poisoning. They took him to a doctor.I think he got some intravenous fluids, but was still sick.

They went to the show, in a town in Puebla. Got there late. The crowd was rowdy, throwing rocks. But then the band went on and played for four hours or so. Just an amazing show.

Hernan played the whole show, sweating, sick, faint, barely hanging on. Reminded me of Michael Jordan during that playoff game years ago. Never forget that night. A real pro….Happy Birthday, Hernan!

 

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Filed under Culture, Mexico, Migrants