Linda Ronstadt - the movie

Posted On: Tuesday - August 11th 2020 8:52PM MST
In Topics: 
  Lefty MegaStupidity  Music  Movies

Would she have been the star she was without the hot bod and cute face?

Of course, she was a great singer, but just askin'...

With a couple of plane rides under our belts and relaxation time, Peak Stupidity now has 2 1/2 movie reviews in mind. The 1/2, BTW, is not for a movie I quit watching (sometimes it doesn't go well - see Tried to watch a movie - here's 3 reviews in one!). One of them just has what I think is an important opening sequence - the first 1/2 hour or so. That post is upcoming.

Anyway, the big thing now, since the movie makers ran pretty much out of original ideas a coupla' decades back - it's just sequels, prequels, and comic books - is to feature some of the great rock music artists. I've got no problem with this. The Peak Stupidity reader should know by now that I think the heyday of good pop music is long gone. There was an Elton John movie available (with a review to come) and this one about the great Linda Ronstadt, called Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. This movie is pretty much a documentary.

I've really got no problem with a documentary as the format, but then with the Elton John movie being more like a weird musical*, I would have liked something in between. By in between, I mean how about the life story as acted out, not so much told, with lots of the great music of the artist stuck in there. The Buddy Holly Story is a great example of what I would have liked more for this Linda Ronstadt movie. They did show lots of music, but not always the whole song, so if just that's what you want, I'd go see it.

Linda Ronstadt grew up in a very musical family. The story on this was heartwarming, as a story of good old Americana back in late-1940s/50s/'60s rural Tucson, Arizona on 10 acres. She's been proud of her Latin American blood (a little more on this to come), but really it sounds like she's only 1/8 Mexican - her Dad's grandfather was a German engineer who moved to what was then a part of Mexico and married a Mexican lady back in the 1840s. This part of the movie was done very well.

Let me write just a bit about this musical artist before I go on. Linda mostly sang other artists/writers songs. As the musical friends/bandmates/interviewees in the movie noted, she made them her own. (No not IP theft, but in a musical sense.) She picked some of the best too, Warren Zevon, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Paul Anka, J.D. Souther, Hank Williams, Phil Everly, Neil Young, Jackson Brown, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, that other Elvis .. something or other. It goes on and on. No one denies she had one hell of a good strong voice too. I will have to add, that if you are of the male persuasion and of a certain, pretty wide, age range, her presence on stage and on album covers wearing the short shorts, cheerleader's uniforms, and even the Cub Scout outfit** probably did not hurt her career at all either.

Peak Stupidity is SHOCKED, and not in a Louis Renault fashion, that we have featured exactly NONE of Linda Ronstadt's music so far. I would have bet someone that I had, but the dBase says what it says. (Yeah, even I, the blogger, need a search function!) We'll have to remedy that, starting today. Though Miss Ronstadt sang both lots of ballads*** and rockers, it's the latter that I enjoy, as once she got her long-term band****, that rock sound out of guitarist Waddy Wachtel and rest. This was supposed to be a quick movie review, so, OK, fine ...

The story of Miss Ronstadt's rise to stardom, with her great music mixed in goes pretty quickly, as she moved out to Los Angeles, then got hooked up with one band after another. She rose to fame fairly quickly, being in the right place at one of the best times in rock music there's ever been. Not all of anyone's favorite songs can be in an hour and a half movie, but they did put in some of the classics, and they fit in with the documentary pretty well.

You get to hear from Linda's musical friends. We heard from Don Henley, Jackson Brown, and some of the music industry people. Emmylou was in there along with Bonnie Raitt, both favorites of mine for a while there. By some point though, the feminism angle came in a bit (whaddya expect from the mid 1970s?). One could get past this part with the whining of "oh, it's hard to make it as a woman, because ..." cause, what, every producer, member of the band, male member of the audience... wanted to make it with you? I'm not sure what the problem would be, really, but if you like the 1970s music, you'll enjoy hearing the story.

At some point, California Governor Jerry Brown (during his first stint as Governor Moonbeam) had a long relationship with Miss Ronstadt, who remained "Miss" her whole life. It turns out from my reading, that this relationship started in the early 1970's, but the movie only starts on about it when it was a big item toward the end of that decade. I don't mind a short stint on that, but then I got this out of Miss Ronstadt, and I am paraphrasing: I don't think a musician should concern herself with these political issues... blah, blah...", but then proceeded to give her very left-wing, opinions on all the BS that Jerry Brown was spewing back in the day. It was California, mind you, so lots of that stuff would be lefty even today!

That was it. I didn't want to be politicked to, there in the middle of a flight, when I could simply click [EXIT] and watch another... which I did ... which will be that 1/2 review coming. I don't know how much time was left in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of my Voice by this point. She was truly a 1970s artist, period, no matter how long she sung after that. So, I figure, with my exit from the movie at about 1979, I didn't miss much.

One more last thing: I figured that, since Miss Ronstadt got into her "roots", in her mind, anyway, with music in the 1980s sometime, the Latin American stuff, some more political BS that I might not enjoy was coming anyway. I don't fault this artist at all for delving into material that was off the mainstream and in deep in her soul or something. It was, though, a lot of music that I never listened to a bit of. Maybe I missed something, maybe I didn't. At least during my watching of the movie, I avoided any more political stress that would deter me from wanting to hear any more from Linda Ronstadt. We'll catch up in the long run, but for now, here is my favorite, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones (did I need to write that out?)

Speaking of movies, and man, this post is getting long, but the reason the video had some other footage at the beginning is because this song Tumbling Dice was featured in the cool 1978 movie FM - no static at all ... Anyone younger than 30 don't bother, you wouldn't understand the whole radio business. It was a big thing! I wanted this live footage:

* No, see that may cause a "duh??" out of the reader, but I'll explain in that upcoming review.

** It probably brought a number of early-onset-puberty boys into the program!

*** Plenty of the ballads were great too. My favorite is Blue Bayou, written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson.

**** After she left The Stone Ponies at the end of the 1960s, Linda was called a solo artist, but a great band sure helped. Initially, it was Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner. If you don't recognize those names, you should just leave this web site right now and not come back .. until next post. OK, they became The Eagles a force more powerful in 1970s music than Linda Rondstadt. During the best and most successful years, 1975 and '76, Linda's great rocking band was:

Waddy Wachtel - Guitar, Background Vocals
Andrew Gold - Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Brock Walsh - Keyboards, Bass
Kenny Edwards - Bass, Banjo, Harmonica, Mandolin, Guitar, Background Vocals
Dan Dugmore - Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
Mike Botts - Drums

Thursday - August 13th 2020 3:16PM MST
PS: Yep, Mr. Ganderson, it's the nature of the work, but those session musicians just don't get much credit and attention from people. That Muscle Shoals (Alabama) Rhythm Section is an example. Some of these people did break out into a touring musical career though.

I will put up some more Linda Ronstadt shortly. I wouldn't have liked her music nearly so much without her great band.
Thursday - August 13th 2020 3:14PM MST
PS: Robert, only the rappers can have lyrics like that now. But, then, you don't call them lyrics when they're not in a song.

Yeah, there are a some not-pretty/handsome artists that do pretty well for themselves. Some, like Lucinda Williams, may have gotten a lot farther if they were hot though.
Thursday - August 13th 2020 6:32AM MST
“ I was workin’ on a steak the other day.
And I saw Waddy in the Rattlesnake Cafe
Dressed in black, tossin’ back a shot of rye
Finding things to do in Denver when you die”

Wachtel was a really good guitar player- pick an album recorded in LA sometime in the 70s and chances are you’ll hear Waddy.

Ronstadt was a cutie- as were Emmylou Harris, Grace Slick, Bonnie Raitt (not as conventionally cute but very sexy) and a few others. Linda (or her handlers) chose good songs, and they were well produced. I never saw her live, more’s the pity.

I did see Bonnie Raitt live a lot, she often played in the Twin Cities as her brother Steve lived there; her first album was recorded at a studio on an island in Lake Minnetonka: the back up band were local icons Willie Murphy and the Bumblebees. As good as her voice sounded on record, you had to see her live to appreciate how magnificent it was.
Her dad, John, was the original Billy Bigelow in Carousel on Broadway.
Wednesday - August 12th 2020 11:19PM MST
PS: I really shouldn't be commenting after the 4th (8th?) beer, but.

Almost a hundred years ago (1930), a black woman could make a living singing things like:

And I'm a little bitty mama, baby and I ain't built for speed
Cryin' I'm a little bitty mama, baby and I ain't built for speed
Ah and I ain't built for speed
I've got everything that a little bitty mama needs

I've got little bitty legs, keep up these noble thighs
I've got little bitty legs, keep up these noble thighs
Ah, keep up these noble thighs
I've got somethin' underneath them that works like a bo' hog's eye

But when you see me comin', pull down your window blind
And when you see me comin', pull down your window blind
You see me comin', pull down your window blind
So your next door neighbor sure can't hear you whine

I'm gonna cut your throat baby, gonna look down in your face
I'm gonna cut your throat babe, gonna look down in your face
Aaaaaaaaa, gonna look down in your face
I'm gonna let some lonesome graveyard be your restin' place

But, it is only now that we have beaten the Patriarchy and have strong, independent women.

P.S. Aside from the lyrics, she really does some amazing stuff with the blues guitar.
Wednesday - August 12th 2020 10:48PM MST
PS: Just to reply to my own comment, one could argue that women such as Mama Cass, Exene, Patti Smith, the lady in Romeo Void, Ari Up, Courtney Love, Mick Jagger, and my favorite, Geeshie Wiley, prove this rule false.

Wednesday - August 12th 2020 8:59PM MST

Mr. Blanc, you say: Attractive women have an advantage in everything. This is true.

One of my favorite examples is Nell Gwynn. (Is she even as well known these days as Happy Rockefeller? --- I will admit I thought Happy was an earlier Rockefeller's wife.)

A really nifty bit of poetry:

Would you like to sin
With Nell Gwynn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err
With her
On some other fur?

She was also said to be quite the wit. One time as she was leaving the palace, and mistaken for the Kings other (Spanish?) Mistress, the mob started stoning her carriage; she leaned out and said: No, you are mistaken. I am the Protestant whore.
Wednesday - August 12th 2020 1:19PM MST
PS: Yep, that's the way it works in this world. There is no profit in pretending otherwise, even though lately it's been tried a lot (with the fat chick on Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, etc). I just looked up "Happy Large Rockefeller". I guess that middle name would be OK, if you are not large. I remember Gerald Ford, but I could have never answered a trivia question on who his VP was till this jogged my memory.

Hey, talk about yer cheap software, you skated right through the BCWDEKWTFEA filter. That the GNU (freeware) version of Ban Commenters Who Don't Even Know Who The Freaking Eagles Are plug-in OK, just having fun, Mr.Blanc. You told me you got into more esoteric and maybe better music and out of the pop world in the early 1970s.

I got off of pop music around 2000, but I haven't gotten into anything really special. I still like the bluegrass, The Dead (of course!) and now a little classical.
Wednesday - August 12th 2020 9:52AM MST
PS Attractive women have an advantage in everything. So, to a lesser extent, do attractive men. Of course, that is something that women, especially attractive women, steadfastly refuse to acknowledge. I’m the oppressor. Happy Rockefeller* is the oppressed. Perhaps a few homely women make it in the entertainment world. There are some character parts for homely women. But the entertainment world is largely about attractive people. For the most part, the homely people have to stay behind the scenes. I do hope that I am not banished, as I do not recognize any of the names in that list of musicians. I gave up pop music for roots music circa 1971, so just about everything after that is terra incognita to me.

I suppose that I should update the name in this quip. I don’t imagine that many people know who Happy Rockefeller was. But I used Happy Rockefeller the first time that I used it, and probably will continue doing so.
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