Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Dear Linda Ronstadt,

Tonight I had to drive downtown to a meeting. All the way downtown. Past the downtown Target, that's how far downtown. North of downtown, which meant that I had some listening time in the offing.

That could have been NPR time, or PRI time, or Q time, but I have to tell you, Linda, that none of that was cutting it for me. It's October, well into autumn now, and for autumn, you need a soundtrack for melancholy. That's just how it is. Those bright days fading to an earlier night: this calls for the music of your youth. Which brings me to you.

I remember driving around town in my folks' station wagon. These were the days, the seventies, when AM radio had music programming. It was the South Bay, Los Angeles, it was the summer before my senior year. I had a serious crush on a boy and that crush was always and forever going to be mostly unrequited. That was the year of your hit "You're No Good," which I liked to sing at the top of my lungs while driving. I liked to pretend that song was me singing to the boy, even though the boy was good. It still made me feel better.

I had the LP and I had the sheet music. I could play and sing the songs on the piano. You didn't write any of them, but your big, generous voice made the songs yours even so.

A couple of years ago I had a hankering to hear the songs again, so I downloaded the album. And a few weeks ago, I read somewhere that you really can't sing anymore--you've lost your voice because of Parkinson's. I don't know how that makes you feel. But tonight, driving north and then home again, I remembered how I felt when your music spoke for me, made the soundtrack to my summer, my teenage heartbreak, and my memories of a gorgeous time when the ocean gleamed on the horizon, my life was ahead of me, and the car radio played songs like yours.

I won't forget you,




  1. I've never really listened to Linda Ronstadt. I now realize that I was wrong not to have listened to her. (Patty Smith, too. I'm really not good at music from before 1990, as it turns out.)

  2. This gave me chills. The writing is so beautiful. And I loved Linda. I saw her perform in London (!) when I was there on a semester abroad. Her affect was shy. I don't think she really enjoyed live performances in front of so many people. But her voice. Wow. Still love her.

    Keep writing the letters. They're awesome.

  3. Love this post. Linda was a part of my 70's and also a most memorable trip to California with my family that included a Linda concert during which I think she wore a Cub Scout uniform. It was, she is, you are, well, awesome.

  4. Wish I'd seen your post when it originally appeared. Brings back some great memories, thank you!



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