Linda Ronstadt (from the album Linda Ronstadt)
Looking back at success is positive reinforcement to let go and simply follow your feet. Linda Ronstadt was still finding her own solo footing on her third album. The 1972 self-titled release was the first studio work where the singer seemed to have a clear intention with recording process and her own sound. On her first two solo records, Linda Ronstadt took steps away from the Folk Rock of her band The Stone Poneys. Her debut, Hand Sown…Home Grown (1969), put Linda Ronstadt in songs that leaned more towards a Country and Rock hybrid. A commercial failure, the album had sold less than 10,000 copies before her next release, 1970’s Silk Purse. Linda Ronstadt traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to record her second release, the only album she recorded in Music City. A battle began on album number two with Capital Records, her label balking at the track “Long, Long Time”, a tune that would prove to be the first charted cut from Linda’s solo work. Of her time in Nashville, Linda Ronstadt pointed out that ‘Nashville Country is very different from California Country’. Her release of Linda Ronstadt would be the last album for Capital Records. While relations with the label were shaky, the singer found the sound/style skin that would transport her to super-stardom throughout the next few decades.
The music scene revolving around Hollywood’s music venue The Troubadour had become a fertile breeding ground for a hybrid sound that was both Rock and Country friendly. Three tracks on Linda Ronstadt were recorded live at The Troubadour, a cover of Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces”, Neil Young’s “Birds”, and countrified funk take on the R&B hit from Fontella Bass “Rescue Me”. Two of the live tracks included male vocals from Randy Meisner, who was a member of her touring band. On Linda Ronstadt, the singer brought in members of her touring band, the players assembled by Glenn Frey, whom Linda had hired for the group. Besides, Randy Meisner, Glenn added fellow local scene musicians Don Henley and Bernie Leadon to the backing band. The recording of the album would be the genesis of the Eagles, the four original members receiving Linda Ronstadt’s approval and help with the fledgling band. The recording equally deserves credit for aligning the California Country that Linda Ronstadt heard in her music and taking solid steps on a path that led to Country Rock.
Classic Country tunes sit side by side with tracks from up-and-coming musicians such as Jackson Browne, whose “Rock Me on the Water” opens the album, and more Folk-leaning artists such as Livingston Taylor (“In My Reply”). The power and purity in Linda Ronstadt’s vocal is on full display on the album, the resonance in her voice drifting over the soft Country playing backing Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone”, comfortable in the Classic Country structure of the Ray Price hit “Crazy Arms”, and strength in the part-time honesty confessions of Eric Anderson’s “I Ain’t Always Been Faithful”.
Fame caught up quickly to Linda Ronstadt, her next release, Don’t Cry Now, her first release on upstart LA-label Asylum Records, founded in 1971 by David Geffen and Eliot Roberts, signing musicians from the California Country scene and jettisoning its artists into commercial success.
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