Simple Dreams

A Musical Memoir

[Amazon Link]

Linda Ronstadt's "musical memoir" is not great, but somewhat interesting to this longtime fan. She's a much better singer than she is a writer. (In fact, after reading some painful passages, I thought: "this is what a bad writer thinks a good writer writes like".)

One interesting observation is the stuff she leaves out. For example, back in the eighties, she played Sun City, in South Africa, during apartheid. For $500,000. In the face of an active boycott. And people were pissed.

There is nothing about Sun City in this book.

Also she had a relationship with George Lucas. Yes, the Star Wars guy. But… nothing about George here. (She only mentions that her great album Cry Like a Rainstorm was recorded at the Skywalker Sound studios.)

So it's incomplete. Linda just talks about what she wants to talk about. It's a real contrast to some of the other musician memoirs I've read, which get down into serial sexual infidelities, substance abuse details, scrapes with the law, etc. There's some of that here, like Linda claiming that the only time she tried cocaine and wound up having her nose cauterized. Ouch! And she got arrested once because her manager bought stolen airplane tickets for a trip to Hawaii.

So she mostly concentrates on the music. And I was impressed with her hands-on direction of her career; she could have just been a rock/pop goddess the entire time. But she followed her muse instead: Mexican music from her childhood, singing with her friends Dolly and Emmylou, American songbook classics, opera. Fine, but geez, I would have liked a few more rock/pop albums. Selfish, I know.

She's mostly complimentary to everyone. The only person she really slags is Jack Nitzsche, and only then because he was a very mean drunk. (This gets tedious after a while, say about the fiftieth time she compliments an acquaintance's amazing musicianship.)