September 7, 2012

L.A. Music: Linda Ronstadt & Country Rock

I want to buy a denim jacket this fall.  Gap or Levis make the best ones, but I want one that's a little faded and broken in, so some thrift shopping is in my future. I'm feeling a pull toward some of the fashions I loved when I was 13 and 14. 

My birthday is in December, and I won't tell you how old I'll be, but let's just say that junior high was a long, long time ago. Like, I can remember my friend Kathy's excitement when her art teacher showed her class the new full-length "Thriller" video.  And while my peers were all excited about M.J. and Duran Duran and Adam Ant (and Styx? I recall lots of "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" on the school yard), I was deep, deep in the thrall of the sounds and fashions of early '70s music.

Hence my junior high quasi-uniform of a denim jacket and big hoop earrings. I wanted to be Linda Ronstadt and date one of the Eagles, but I also wanted to be an Eagle myself: a cool young dude in a band hanging out in the desert with his buddies drinking tequila and wearing denim jackets.
Image via.
Photo by the legendary Henry Diltz, via here.

Imagine how dated that Eagles photo looked to teenagers in 1982. But doesn't it feel awfully contemporary now in 2012?  Weird, how time and fashion work their magic. 

I grew up listening to my parents' copy of Ronstandt's first Greatest Hits compilation. I knew every song note for note, and still do. I warbled away at full-volume to this, much the way Lily does now with Adele. 
This was the only Ronstadt album we owned, but my aunt had a couple more, and I dug deeper into the catalog myself once I was old enough to buy my own music.  I'm not sure why I was so wrapped up in these artists, when my peers were embracing Madonna and MTV (the lucky ones who had cable, anyway). Armchair pyschology might say I was turning to something familiar and longstanding in my life, during a time of terrible upheavals in my family. Maybe. But back then it also felt like a deliberate rejection of pop culture, my embracing the totally uncool world of '70s country-rock.  I dunno.

All I know for sure is that I have to reign myself in, because there's so much more I want to say about Linda Rondstadt and her place in my heart.  My obsession with Stevie Nicks came a few years later, but except for Broadway and Rogers & Hammerstein soundtracks, Linda was first in my heart.  Like me, she's a mix of Mexican-American and German and I didn't fail to notice how she looked like she might have been related to me.  (Even now, decades and quite a few pounds later, Rondstadt in her late middle-age resembles some of my older family members.)  And there was a period in the late '80s when her Canciones de mi Padre album of traditional Mexican ballads was played loudly at every family backyard barbecue and casual get-together

When I'm out thrift-shopping for my denim jacket and replacements for my killer old turquoise hoop earrings, I'll also pop into the vintage record store and look for a couple of early Ronstadt albums. I haven't heard them in years, and I miss them so much. And I'll still know every note.
It took me forever to sort through which song to feature today, but I've narrowed it down, appropriately enough, to this: Linda singing with The Eagles as her band. I love this!

Happy Friday! And have a country-rockin' weekend.

P.S.: I also featured a great video clip of Linda in my first-ever L.A. Music post, about session player Waddy Wachtel. 


  1. In high school I had a slouchy-shouldered but cropped short aqua denim jacket that I wore every single day for three years. Along with the biggest hoop earrings ever. I looked hawt.

    Ironically, that is still one of my regular rotation looks, although my denim jacket is now a darker wash and the hoops aren't quite so big. I like to think of it as classic :-)

    1. Yes, def. an American classic look. And I bet you looked hawt...with big bangs, too? ;)


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