Hi, Linda. It has been 40 years since the release of your hugely successful album Simple Dreams (1). Do you have happy memories of it?
Well, I don’t ever listen to my stuff once I’ve finished it, and I don’t really know what’s on it. I’m not saying it’s a bad record, I’m just saying I can’t remember it. When I listen to all my old stuff, I tend to be horrified.
What do you feel is horrifying about your old stuff?
I feel as if I really started learning how to sing in around 1980. I sang in an operetta on Broadway (2) and I sang American standards – the material just allowed me to extend my range.
So you don’t have a favourite out of the 28 studio albums you have recorded?
I don’t like any of them, but there are moments on some records that I like. The one with Nelson Riddle; the Trio records (3) I did with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. I made a record with Ann Savoy, the Cajun singer, after I got Parkinson’s disease, and I could barely sing. I had to whisper everything, but that was a really successful record for us – artistically successful (4).
You were diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012. How has it felt to have the thing that defined you taken away?
Singing was certainly a part of my identity, but it was never the whole thing. It was something I did, but I always felt defined more by where I was from, who my parents were, who my family were and how I interacted with them. Being a successful singer was only a fraction of it.
So you don’t miss it too much?
I miss harmony singing more than anything. I especially miss when everybody in my family sings and plays music – when we got together, it was the main thing that bound us. And a lot of my friendships have music at the core – I could call up Emmylou Harris and we would sing together…