Visual and Vocal
There's something distinctly average about Linda Ronstadt, but perhaps that's one of the things that makes her so ravishing. She is the high school girl you dated once or twice and remembered for the rest of your life. She was born 26 years ago in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in a "musical family". By the mid-'60s, she and two friends had formed a folk-rock group called the Stone Ponies. In accordance with the usual success-story script, they went to Hollywood, where they were signed by Capitol records; eventually, they had a top ten hit, "Different Drum", written by then-Monkee Michael Nesmith.
The Stone Ponies split up not long after that, but Linda was just beginning. The waning months of the '60s found her in Nashville, where her combination of innocence and utter frankness, as well as her disdain for bras and predilection for skimpy blouses tied above her navel, cutoff jeans and being barefoot managed to flip out many a stolid c & w session man. Linda Ronstadt's vocal style is like her physical presence: brimming with passion and vulnerability, tremulous, yet possessed of a core of absolute strength.
If you ever get a chance to see her perform live, get as close to the stage as you can. In the meantime, you might pick up on her albums. Silk Purse is probably the best, though all of them are great. Once you've pulled your eyes away from the curve of those lips, you'll find one of the finest distillations ever of rock, c & w, and other vocal styles.
- Lester Bangs.