Canciones de mi Madre o su Madre

Tucson Monthly, May 1998

On Mother's Day Linda Ronstadt will sing American jazz standards such as "I've Got a Crush on You" and "Someone to Watch Over Me" in a concert billed as "A Thoroughly Romantic Evening- Mom's best-loved songs" at the Temple of Music & Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

So, we can expect a tribute to mothers and motherhood? Maybe the flip side of sorts to Ronstadt's Canciones de mi Padre, a collection of traditional Mexican songs and mariachi tunes released in 1987?

Well, not exactly. However, Ronstadt says "maternal mood" served as a guide in the song selection process.

"A lot of people told me that they courted, married, and produced babies to those records," she says. "I'm assuming that mom (in a generic sense) loves these songs because there are all these babies running around."

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Tucson Waldorf Education Association. Ronstadt, a mother of two, is an avid supporter of Waldorf's holistic approach to education, which stresses learning in natural environments and eschews anything that hints of commercialism, including a vast selection of plastic toys and television shows.

And what's wrong with a little TV? "I see television as a greed amplifier," Ronstadt says, adding that it bombards viewers with the message that they've got to buy the right toys, shoes, makeup, etc .... or they won't measure up. After booting the boob tube from her home, she says, "it was like 20 obnoxious houseguests finally packed up and left."

About four years ago, after spending three decades in Los Angeles- the mecca of all things commercial- Ronstadt began maintaining homes in San Francisco and Tucson.

And what does she like most and least about returning to the Old Pueblo, where she was once just another teenager at Catalina High? The best part is a no-brainer: winter weather. The worst: "The cynical way in which development has taken place- the way it has simply been allowed to sprawl, " Ronstadt says, adding, "It's destroying culture... It cancels history." As an example, she points to the destruction of part of a downtown neighborhood in 1970 to make way for the Tucson Community Center, now the Tucson Convention Center. "They bulldozed that barrio, which I think was racist ... and they set up an ugly building."

Given such politically charged gumption, maybe it's time for one of Tucson's favorite daughters to consider a campaign for a City Hall post. If Linda, rather than Republican relative Fred, were the Ronstadt seated on the City Council, she would fight to accomplish three things:

Replace Tucson's tall streetlights with something lower and less glaring. "I hate the streetlights," Ronstadt asserts. "They block out the sky in the daytime- you can't see the mountains. And at night they block out the stars."

Also, "I'd make Broadway into a beautiful greenbelt that would have a trolley car running east and west so you wouldn't have the roaring traffic coming through, and a bike path, and a walking path."

And finally, "I would never think of putting a freeway through the center of town. Ever. Because when freeways go through town, they strangle neighborhobds."

OK. Off the stump and back to more immediate matters- the May 10th concert. Accompanied by a piano player, Ronstadt will perform with the Ronstadt Cousins (a brother and two cousins). Jazz pianist Jeff Haskell and the a cappella jazz vocal group Half Dozen of the Other are also on the bill. In addition to sturdy jazz tunes, Ronstadt may belt out a few popular favorites, such as "Blue Bayou." And who knows? Maybe she'll toss in a little mom-oriented political commentary for good measure. For more information, phone the Temple box office, 622-2823.

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