Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Pretty self-explanatory
sweetest punch
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Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby sweetest punch » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:24 am

https://www.elviscostello.com/#!/news/298768

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LINDA RONSTADT

"In very different times, my reaction to having my songs recorded by other singers was downright suspicious, territorial and, at times even a little hostile. To say the least, I lacked grace.

Five years ago, shortly before an encore performance of "Alison", I told the audience at the Hollywood Bowl, that it was Linda Ronstadt's rendition of that song - which was featured on her big hit album "Living In The U.S.A." - that kept petrol in our tour bus at a time when we were sharing double bill with everyone from Talking Heads to Eddie Money for a $1.99¢ ticket.

Linda Ronstadt and I have never met, so the stage seemed the next best place for such an acknowledgement.

I recently went to see "The Sound Of My Voice" at the Film Forum in NYC on an afternoon double-bill with the new documentary about Miles Davis. While the Miles film was filled with his wonderful music and startlingly vivid photographs and footage, the film mostly told me things I already knew, while the Linda Ronstadt movie was a completely surprising, clear-sighted and unsentimental look at her career, revealing an intelligence, self-awareness and sense of humour that was not always apparent in some of her male contemporaries from the early '70s

I used to joke that musicians invited some terrible curse by taking on my songs and how, having recorded one of my songs, Linda decided to push her luck by recording three more on her album "Mad Love" and the next thing she was singing Gilbert & Sullivan.

Of course, as someone who has spent their career doing the exact opposite of what has been expected of me, this was really a joke that was told against myself.

Nevertheless, I can't imagine a G&S operetta was actually the top of the record company wish list for one of their top recording superstars even if the piece ended up being a spectacular success.

The film tells us that Linda Ronstadt had to persuade her label boss at the WEA record group to bankroll her album with Nelson Riddle in a way that I was never obliged to wrangle with Warner Brothers, regarding the funding of "The Juliet Letters" but then my pop and rock and roll records weren't selling triple platinum, so they had less to lose.

I can't think of an artist of her commercial status who would have even proposed such a collaboration with Nelson Riddle let alone two albums of Mexican folk songs but the documentary shows these records to be a testament to artistic curiosity and daring.

It was a 2019 performance of one of those traditional songs, filmed in Linda's front room, flanked by her cousins that brought me to uncontrollable tears, so much so that I had to slip out of the theatre before the lights came up after the final credits.

My father's Parkinson's related decline saw his senses gradually eroded, until even his sense of taste for a dram was lost but even after his speech was reduced to a hoarse whisper, he was able to still negotiate a challenging tune like "The Way You Look Tonight".

Linda's commentary is frank about the impact of her illness on her ability to control her voice and sing to her own satisfaction but in that precious moment she appears undimmed in the way she could access the emotion of song, in the company of those family voices.

This version of "Party Girl" is a clip from a performance around the release of "Mad Love" - a memento of my less generous youth in so many ways but I urge you to see this wonderful documentary, whether or not you regard yourself a fan of the singer or her musical choices. Perhaps there are human qualities that endure beyond the fashionable poses we may have once affected.

With much respect. Elvis Costello.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby sulky lad » Sat Oct 26, 2019 2:55 pm

Every so often Elvis writes, outside of lyrics, words and kindnesses that remind me of how precious our humanity should be to all of us - and this is another one of those times - God bless you Elvis !

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby bronxapostle » Sat Oct 26, 2019 3:22 pm

Two tidbits, i only saw Linda once and that was only because it was a triple bill with my top tenner back then and still, Jackson Browne and also James Taylor for nuclear disarmament. otherwise, it would have never occured. So the odd stat is.... that i saw her sing PARTY GIRL four plus years before i saw Elvis sing it on Bdwy. Right up there with the fact that, THE VERY FIRST EC SONG I EVER SAW LIVE WAS RACHEL SWEET SINGING ALISON IN 1978!!

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby FAVEHOUR » Sat Oct 26, 2019 5:46 pm

Very glad to see this graceful essay from Elvis. Ronstadt had undeniable vocal chops. My mother liked the Nelson Riddle collaborations but fell in love with Canciones de Mi Padre. One of my fondest memories is taking her to see Linda’s live version of those songs, with costumes and set designs like a Broadway musical, from the front row at the Warner in DC. My mom, worn out from her first bout with the cancer that would return to end her life a few years later, was enchanted and enthralled. It was a beautiful thing.


Dave

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby bronxapostle » Sat Oct 26, 2019 7:41 pm

FAVEHOUR wrote:Very glad to see this graceful essay from Elvis. Ronstadt had undeniable vocal chops. My mother liked the Nelson Riddle collaborations but fell in love with Canciones de Mi Padre. One of my fondest memories is taking her to see Linda’s live version of those songs, with costumes and set designs like a Broadway musical, from the front row at the Warner in DC. My mom, worn out from her first bout with the cancer that would return to end her life a few years later, was enchanted and enthralled. It was a beautiful thing.


Dave


Sounds like a magnificent memory. God rest Mom. And yes, VOCAL CHOPS BEYOND THE REST.

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby docinwestchester » Sat Oct 26, 2019 7:54 pm

Damn she nails that ending in the Party Girl video.

That's a really heartfelt and insightful essay by EC.

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby MOJO » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:23 am

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Last edited by MOJO on Sun Oct 27, 2019 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby krm » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:00 pm

"Perhaps there are human qualities that endure beyond the fashionable poses we may have once affected."
yes!

sweetest punch
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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby sweetest punch » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:49 pm

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news ... -interview

Linda Ronstadt & Collaborators Look Back on 'Mad Love' at 40
3/10/2020 by Ron Hart

For all the speculation about 1980's Mad Love -- released 40 years ago in late February 1980 -- being a new wave record, it was never the intention of Linda Ronstadt or her longtime producer Peter Asher to compete with the likes of Blondie, The Cars and the legion of acts on the vanguard of pop music at the top of the new decade.

"I don't think that's how we wanted it to sound like intentionally," Ronstadt explains from her home in San Francisco. "I was just trying to find 10 or so songs to do. Back then, I was doing about an album a year, so Mad Love fell into that cycle."

"Every Linda record is the same in that we were just looking for great songs that we really liked and Linda felt that she could really sing, and then framing them in the best way we could think of," adds Asher. "In Linda's case, it's always been the songs that lead a particular movement or style on one of her records, regardless if it's a Nelson Riddle album with songs from the 1930s or Mad Love with songs from the late '70s. It's all the same for us."

For Mad Love, it meant that the new wave stylings of the record came through pure osmosis thanks to Ronstadt being introduced to material by songwriters on the bleeding edge of the burgeoning sound in 1979.

"I was looking for songs to record," Ronstadt explains. "And Wendy Waldman, who sang with me, came to my house once with music from a young songwriter who turned out to be Billy Steinberg. So she let me hear some of his demos and I picked the one I felt I could sing, which was 'How Do I Make You.'"

For Steinberg, who would go on to co-write such timeless '80s hits as Madonna's "Like A Virgin," Whitney Houston's "So Emotional," Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" and "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles, it was a game changer when she selected "How Do I Make You" -- an uptempo rocker that also appears on the recently reissued debut LP from Steinberg's band Billy Thermal -- for Mad Love.

"My guitarist Craig Hull, his girlfriend at the time was Wendy Waldman," recalls Steinberg. "This was back when Wendy was singing background vocals for Linda Ronstadt. So without telling me, Wendy and Craig played my Billy Thermal demos to Linda, and Linda really took to 'How Do I Make You' and decided she wanted to record it. It was the first song I ever got on another artist's record. That tune launched my career. Then, shortly after Linda recorded it, Billy Thermal got signed to Richard Perry's Planet Records."

Guitarist Mark Goldenberg had just gotten off the road with Al Stewart on his Year of the Cat tour and was offered the chance to record with the opening act, who happened to be Wendy Waldman.

"It was pretty weird how she found me," says Goldenberg, who not only plays guitar on most of Mad Love but also saw Ronstadt choose three of his songs to sing in "Justine," "Cost of Love" and the opening title cut. "Wendy had asked me to join her band and record her album Strange Company with her. And during the making of that album, I started hanging out with her bass player Peter Bernstein and Steve Beers, her drummer. So once we wrapped Strange Company, the three of us started The Cretones, and we got a regular gig at a sandwich shop near USC on Friday nights. So Peter Bernstein, his girlfriend was Linda Ronstadt's dog walker named Marilyn, and she got a cassette of our tunes and gave it to Linda, and then she came to see us play at the Starwood in Hollywood. Then after that I get a phone call from someone in Peter Asher's office telling me that Linda Ronstadt would like to record some of my songs and asked if that was okay. So that's how it happened. If there were no dogs, there'd be no story (laughs)."

"I remember really liking his music, especially 'Mad Love,' which was occurring in my life at the time," Ronstadt laughs. "Then Wendy and my bass player Kenny Edwards -- who were once in a band together in the '60s called Bryndle -- were taking me to see The Cretones perform the songs I heard on the demo."

For Goldenberg, whose Knacks-esque guitar pop helped drive much of Mad Love's direction, seeing Ronstadt choose his song as the title track was an unexpected bonus.

"I was a very surprised and lucky guy," Goldenberg laughs. "It was certainly hard for me to get up to the microphone and sing those songs after her versions. The whole experience of working with her was amazing. We cut those songs in fairly rapid order. Previous incarnations of her studio band featured a lot of overdubbed guitar and it was very produced, and I think Peter and Linda wanted to do something a little more immediate and more direction with just good live playing. And the stuff that we recorded -- those vocals were live vocals. She didn't go back later to do any overdubs; she largely sang it while I played guitar next to her."

"The way that Peter made records was the singer was singing the lead vocal while the band was playing the track in the room," explains guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who has played guitar on several Ronstadt albums over the years but only sang background vocals on "Mad Love" and "Cost of Love" here. "That was totally unheard of in most of the circles in Los Angeles back then. Usually you would go in and the singer wouldn't even be there, there would only be a guide vocal and the track and when the track was done the artist would come in when no one else was there and sing the vocal for the producer. But on my first record with Linda, she's singing 'Blue Bayou' as a live vocal. All those records were cut live, and Mad Love was no different."

But perhaps the biggest elephant in the room with regards to the new wave presence that hung above Mad Love was that of one Elvis Costello, freshly basking in the adulation of music critics thanks to the success of his breakout 1979 album Armed Forces with the Attractions. Costello landed in Ronstadt's periphery thanks to guitarist Danny Kortchmar, whose scorching guitar solo on the sultry version of Little Anthony and the Imperials' "Hurt So Bad" the singer herself tells Billboard was "the best guitar solo he ever played on one of my records." ("Hurt So Bad" became one of two top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits on Mad Love, along with "How Do I Make You.")

"I was at Tower Records when I saw the cassette for My Aim Is True with this skinny motherfucker on the cover and thought it looked interesting," explains Kortchmar, who also played guitar on albums by James Taylor, Harry Nilsson, Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne, whose hit "Somebody's Baby" was written by the guitarist nicknamed Kootch. "So I bought the tape, stuck it in my car. I wound up listening to it over and over again. At one point I wound up in Peter Asher's office telling him how amazing this guy was and how he should check him out. Two weeks later, he calls me back and says, 'Elvis is doing a concert at Hollywood High, and I bought tickets for all of us.' So we all went, including Linda, and I think that's when she realized what a great cat Elvis Costello was and how much he had to offer, so we wound up doing some of his tunes."

"I remember that Hollywood High show well," recalls Ronstadt's longtime drummer Russ Kunkel. "This was a defining moment for us as players going into this concert. We had all this success with everything that happened with Linda and James Taylor prior to that. But the winds were changing and this new wave thing was happening, so we went and saw this show and we were exposed to some really interesting new stuff. And I think that was the moment when we all felt like, 'OK, we gotta take a little pivot here and move in this direction.' I think the Mad Love album was exactly what came out of that."

Sadly, however, Costello at the time was not as enthused as Steinberg and Goldenberg about having a commercial artist like Linda Ronstadt covering his songs, which began when she tackled "Alison" on 1978's Living In The USA. For Mad Love, she doubled down on her appreciation for Elvis and took on three of his tunes in "Party Girl," "Talking In The Dark" and "Girls Talk," which was a single the previous year for Dave Edmunds and would also appear on Costello's Get Happy!!, which was released around the same time as Love. In recent years however, his viewpoint has evolved considerably, culminating in a mea culpa he posted on his website shortly after a screening of the acclaimed Linda Ronstadt documentary The Sound of My Voice.

"In very different times, my reaction to having my songs recorded by other singers was downright suspicious, territorial and, at times even a little hostile," admits Costello in the post. "To say the least, I lacked grace. Five years ago, shortly before an encore performance of 'Alison,' I told the audience at the Hollywood Bowl, that it was Linda Ronstadt's rendition of that song -- which was featured on her big hit album Living In The USA -- that kept petrol in our tour bus at a time when we were sharing double bill with everyone from Talking Heads to Eddie Money for a $1.99¢ ticket. Linda Ronstadt and I have never met, so the stage seemed the next best place for such an acknowledgement."

Funnily enough, however, both Ronstadt and Asher knew where he was coming from that whole time.

"I understood exactly where he was coming from and why it had bothered him," Ronstadt tells Billboard. "If you do something and then you see someone else doing it, you think like they are taking away part of your identity. It's a sensitive reaction; I've done it myself. And I took it for what it was back then. But I love Elvis. He writes like an old-fashioned songwriter. His songs are so beautifully tragic and they have a lot of meaning behind them. He's a gentleman, and he's got a great heart."

"I was actually talking to Elvis about this recently," adds Asher. "Because he actually re-apologized for some of the weird things he said at the time on his site, and he was concerned if it would've bothered Linda and me, but it didn't. When he was critical of our versions of his songs, it was part of his persona at the time. But in the end it came down to 'Party Girl,' 'Girls Talk' and 'Talking In The Dark' all being great songs and she and I together came up with the best possible way to do them justice."


One final, and perhaps most crucial, element in the neon residue that impacts the perception of Mad Love is the keyboard work of Little Feat's Bill Payne, who had entered these album sessions hot off the heels of his work on Robert Palmer's underrated 1978 LP Double Fun, just one of several Palmer albums that featured members of Little Feat in their creation. And no doubt Payne brought a little bit of that wizard dust with him for these tunes as well, though the influences on his performance throughout Mad Love were not as directly inspired by the likes of Steve Nieve and Benmont Tench as much as the film music he was hearing at the time.

"I wasn't really listening for that kind of stuff at the time," Payne explains of his connection to new wave music back then. "But you couldn't avoid it, especially as a keyboard player. The European synthesizer music I was hearing in movies at the time by artists like Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre played a bigger role inspirationally than new wave. I would hear sounds and then try to replicate them. But then again, I had been playing around on synthesizers myself for a long time before that in Little Feat. I've always been very conscious about how what I'm doing will fit into the sound of the project and what was surrounding me."

Ultimately, what it came down to was the same thing that characterized every Linda Ronstadt album on the market: the shots called by the singer herself. And for Mad Love, it was simply an instance of pop music's next evolution naturally imbuing the tunes that tickled her ear.

"The thing that Linda always had was this uncanny ability to pick songs from the great songwriters, whether it was Lowell George, JD Souther, Jimmy Webb or Elvis Costello," proclaims Kunkel. "Her strength was her ability to choose great songs. And even though Mad Love gets its tag as being her foray into new wave, she really only kept true to her roots. Because when you consider the songs by The Hollies, Neil Young and Little Anthony and the Imperials songs on here as well, it was simply a collection of songs from great songwriters."

And as a final word, be forewarned of what you might hear from Kootch if you dare mention Debbie Harry in the same sentence as Linda Ronstadt: "Linda is so monumentally important in terms of American music and the progress thereof throughout her entire career. As a musician, I have to tell you there's no f--king way in the world that Debbie Harry had the power and emotion and intensity Linda had. There's no comparison. Debbie Harry is a pop star and that's great; she's good at that. Ronstadt is one of the greatest singers who ever f--king lived, man. She will kill you in a minute. Debbie Harry has nothing on Linda Ronstadt. There's no one like her."
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

sweetest punch
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Re: Elvis writes about Linda Ronstadt

Postby sweetest punch » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:47 pm

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/musi ... um-971262/

40 Years of ‘Mad Love’: In Praise of Linda Ronstadt’s Forgotten New Wave Album
The album has been forgotten, but it has a devoted cult following for a reason
By ROB SHEFFIELD

Happy birthday to Linda Ronstadt’s New Wave album Mad Love, released 40 years ago, in March 1980. It’s the weirdest oddity in her catalog, with three Elvis Costello covers. Mad Love is forgotten by time, written out of her official history. Not even Linda has a kind word for this album. In the acclaimed 2019 documentary, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice — which treats every one of her career moves as a stroke of brilliance — Mad Love doesn’t get mentioned much. But for some of us, it’s one of her career highlights — her answer to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, as the princess of Seventies-L.A. mellow pivoted to leather jackets and skinny ties.

“It would be silly for me to dye my hair pink and start pogoing,” Linda told Rolling Stone at the time. But she was leaving her Seventies image behind. “If everybody’s eating granola this year, then everybody’s going to be eating syntho-food next year.” She was tired of playing America’s hippie sweetheart, all bare feet and Cub Scout shirts. She wanted to dance to the beat of a different drum. Most of all, she wanted to sing a bunch of Elvis Costello songs. Many people were horrified. Elvis was one of them. “They are like sheer torture,” he declared when he heard Mad Love. “Dreadful. A total waste of vinyl.”

Mad Love was not a commercial success, to say the least, ending her reign on the pop charts. Costello, in a 1989 Musician interview, took the blame. “There’s the curse of Costello to consider when you look at Linda. One moment she was the biggest-selling female singer in America. The next thing she’s in opera. Record four of my songs — that’s enough to finish anybody’s career!” Elvis even wondered if he was responsible for Ronstadt quitting rock & roll. “Now she’s singing Mexican songs; she knows I can’t write in Spanish.”

Many big-name rock stars were desperate for New Wave cred in 1980: from the J. Geils Band, who had everyone’s favorite record that spring with Love Stinks, to Billy Joel, who scored a Number One hit (“It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me”) by complaining about Devo fans. Even the most mainstream dinosaurs wanted to jump on the bandwagon. But Linda really took it to extremes. “Weird Al” Yankovic summed it up in “It’s Still Billy Joel to Me”: “Now everybody thinks the New Wave is super/Just ask Linda Ronstadt or even Alice Cooper/It’s a big hit, isn’t it, even if it’s a piece of junk/It’s still Billy Joel to me.”

Note: Billy Joel’s New Wave rip was darn catchy. But Alice Cooper’s was bloody brilliant, with the Gary Numan knockoff “Clones (We’re All”) from his underrated Flush the Fashion.

Up until Mad Love, Linda and producer Peter Asher had the trustiest formula in the biz, churning out slick oldies remakes. Your typical Linda hit was a song that somebody else had made a hit 15 or 20 years earlier. These days, her artistic reputation rests on her interpretations of writers like Lowell George or J.D. Souther or Anna McGarrigle, but those were deep cuts buried on her albums. Her actual hits were oldies from Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Holland/Dozier/Holland, or Doris Troy. (Strange but true: Not one of these people is mentioned in The Sound of My Voice.)

Linda’s remakes were often nice, but antiseptic, and even she got bored. Mad Love burned her bridges to the L.A. mellow mafia — no songs by Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Eric Kaz, any of those dudes. No Eagles were involved. Instead, she sang three tunes by L.A. power-pop unknowns the Cretones, the homeless man’s Knack; three by Costello; a Knack rip by Billy Steinberg, who’d go on to co-write Eighties classics like “Eternal Flame” and “Like a Virgin” but at this point just aspired to top “My Sharona.” She did Neil Young’s great “Look Out for My Love,” from Comes a Time (out-Trans-ing him two years before Trans), and to hedge her commercial bets, the shoddier-than-usual oldies cover “Hurt So Bad.” She also did a bang-up job on Edie Sands’ 1965 NYC girl-group classic “I Can’t Let Go.”

Costello’s response was famously bitchy, but Linda seemed to enjoy boasting about how much he hated her. After she sang “Alison,” she told Playboy, “He said he’d never heard it but that he’d be glad to get the money. So I sent him a message. ‘Send me some more songs, just keep thinking about the money.’ And he sent me the song ‘Talking in the Dark,’ which has not been released here, and I love it. I also recorded ‘Party Girl’ and ‘Girls Talk.’”

But sadly, neither Elvis nor Linda squeezed much loot out of Mad Love. “How Do I Make You,” the faux-Blondie lead single, stalled at Number 10. It was one thing to sing Costello’s songs, but another to copy his haircut. The album became a dollar-bin staple; in the Eighties, they wouldn’t let you walk out of a record store without making you take a copy of Mad Love with you. Linda fled to the theater, spending the summer of 1980 starring in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

But New Wave kids were more open to it than her old fans were, especially since she brought more spark and wit to these Costello tunes than he did. “I like to take his songs and switch the gender around, because his gender assignments are very flexible,” she told Rolling Stone. “Talking in the Dark” is one of her best, full of neurotic lust. Her “Girls Talk” wasn’t as great as Dave Edmunds’ version, but what is? Yet “Party Girl” is the prize — she changes it to a first-person lament, claiming the sad story as her own. As in her version of Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” she skewers the male vanity at the heart of the song.

“I really loved ‘Party Girl’ in particular,” she said to Goldmine. “I’m sure to this day people have an impression of me as someone who’s sort of frivolous — ‘They say I’m nothing but a party girl.’ That song really struck me. I loved singing that song. I used to sing that song until I’d be practically hallucinating.”

Ronstadt took no offense to Elvis’ complaints. “I was very mainstream, so again, it’s that party-girl thing. People think I was frivolous, so maybe Elvis thought I was frivolous.… Hey, I would have agreed with him.” To his credit, Costello admitted he’d been a dick. “I was so snotty about Linda Ronstadt’s covers,” he said in 1989. “I was just being punky and horrible.” After seeing the documentary last fall, Costello announced he’d wept “uncontrollable tears” and praised her “artistic curiosity and daring.” He also called her “Party Girl” “a memento of my ungenerous youth.”

Mad Love was Ronstadt’s last stand as a rock star. For Get Closer in 1982, she tried reheating her 1970s sound, but it flopped. More disastrous was her decision to go to South Africa and play Sun City in May 1983, the first top-rank American rock star to do so. Fans were devastated, especially the ones who took her seriously as an artist. (In the documentary, there’s a bizarre scene where she insists, “As far as I was concerned, it was just a gig.”) She spent the rest of the Eighties trying her hand at lounge standards (What’s New), Mexican ballads (Canciones de Mi Padre), and country (Trio). Mad Love was really the one time she looked into a possible future for herself as an Eighties hitmaker and realized it wasn’t going to happen. In her memoir, Simple Dreams, the only time she mentions it is to call it “my first digital album” — you have to admit, that’s exquisite shade.

Mad Love remains a square peg in her career. Like the heroine of “Party Girl,” it’s scorned, forgotten, taken for granted as a frivolous fling. Yet it has its own devoted cult. And 40 years later, it still sounds like Linda Ronstadt at her best and boldest.

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Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.


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