Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir
Cousins and nephews get mentioned by name, but her two adopted children don't. Never will we find out. Her well-known politics get even shorter shift than her personal life. Some good stories come from slightly outside of that bubble, too, as when she goes on a date with tourmate Jim Morrison More than just telling tales of the days when giants walked the Troubadour, Ronstadt also gives a sense of the thoughts that go into being a singer's singer, without ever being immodest about her gifts.
And she knows her limitations, being candid about her unsuitability for the lead role in Puccini's "Boheme," which bombed on Broadway.
She sums up her vocal philosophy: "If one is singing a sad song, it is better to tell the story as clearly and simply - even as journalistically - as one can. It will have a stronger effect on the listener and seem more emotional than a teary, overwrought delivery.
The rock critics who dismissed her as overly technical over the years may beg to differ, but Ronstadt indeed served to prove that flawlessness is not synonymous with bloodlessness - notwithstanding her influence on perfect but soulless youngsters like Carrie Underwood. If only that simple, not overtly emotional approach worked as well in this memoir as it did on her best records.
If she's not going to shed tears onto the pages, she could at least allude to having tear ducts.
But the book's early chapters tell us that, growing up in the tough Arizona desert, she learned that "cowgirls don't cry," a lesson that stuck. Now, as ever, you'll have to look away from her face or the page and deep into the key of E to hear the slightest sob. E-mail: books sfchronicle. WH drops objection to whistleblower speaking to Congress. Opinion: Democrats' impeachment gamble could pay off. Analysis: Why Ukraine allegations broke dam on impeachment. Senate approves resolution calling for whistleblower complaint.
Linda Ronstadt at her home in San Francisco.
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Simple Dreams : A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt (2013, Hardcover)
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