Linda Ronstadt: ‘I don’t like any of my albums’ | Music

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.

‘I could call up Emmylou Harris and we would sing together over the phone.’ Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Ronstadt in 1987. Photograph: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

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…

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