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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 1 January 2014
I first heard Linda Ronstadt speak in the early 1980s on a radio programme called "My Top 12" - a kind of rock version of Desert Island Discs. She really stood out, both in terms of the eclecticism of her musical choices but also in the authority with which she spoke about choices and their origins. I was impressed by her intelligence and ability to articulate her views. As soon as I heard she was writing a book, I knew that it would be worth reading. It most definitely is. Whereas most biographies drift all over the place, Linda has made it clear that this is not a "kiss and tell" (which she has consistently refused to do) but rather a record of her musical experiences, recordings and their roots. Given that this is what I have loved about Linda the most, the book covers just what I wanted to read about. There is a great introductory period chronicling her Tuscon, Arizona family roots and how they shaped her life and her musical tastes. There are also some great stories from the late-60s and early 70s when her friends were folk like Jackson Browne and the Eagles, all of whom were trying to find their way in their music and their careers. There are also some interesting insights into the challenges for a single woman in what was essentially a man's world. Once she achieves platinum success, the story advances rapidly to the 1980s and her musical detours, but it is fascinating to hear why she made the choices that she did to sing Gilbert and Sullivan, the Great American Songbook, and traditional Mexican music, and also the frequent tensions with her record company over such choices when she was at the pinnacle of rock and pop success. As mentioned, references to her private life are marginal, but she comes across as a well-rounded, honest, humble and classy lady - determined to write as she has always sung, with honesty and dignity. One of the few biographies that I have read that left me with my admiration for the person fully in-tact and respect for their music enhanced. A very good read!
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on 30 January 2014
What excellent biography doesn't leave you wanting more? While there seems to be something of her real self held back, there is nevertheless telling detail about her musical career in what was essentially a male dominated world. I love the book - and a deep sense of her musicality and love of music for its own sake comes across well. That we have moved on from a pretty supportive group of emerging artists to the hype we have today is sad. But to finish your own gig in the 60's and 70's and then drive across town to see another artists or bands last few numbers must've been inspirational. Musicians rooted for each other then and were not seemingly in the least obsessive about themselves or their own careers. She was lucky to have Peter Asher as Manager / Producer during some really productive years. Her part in the La Boheme production and Pirates on Broadway are well described with modesty. She describes honestly how she could reach the required notes but not sustain them given the vocal limitations of belting out rock songs. She could with necessary practice and her amazing range have easily conquered such music wonderfully had she had the time .That she became a first rate producer herself is testament to her all round intelligence and ability. And what songs she selected!! Hearing 'The Moon's a Harsh Mistress' for the first time is beyond words - how can a book illustrate her perfect vocals? She was truly a master of genres and interpretation of them. I learnt sadly of her recently contracting Parkinsons disease and being unable to sing. How truly awful is that? I played 'Heart Like a Wheel' in response to this news and then saw Andrew Gold's name listed as the pianist on that track. With that songsmith genius dead too early and Linda's voice now silent I gulped back the emotion and shed a brief tear. Honestly, she is unique! And Don Henley's testimonial on the back cover of the book says it all as he finishes with " I'm still learning from her." Wow!
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on 22 January 2015
One book I enjoyed more than I thought I might was Linda Ronstadt’s autobiography, “Simple Dreams”. I’ve always enjoyed her voice: I went straight out and bought her LP after hearing her sing “Tracks of My Tears” on the radio in the 1970s. The voice is wonderful, and I have always admired the way that she was happy to move between different genres - country, Mexican folk, rock’n’roll, Gilbert and Sullivan, Puccini, and the great American song-book with Nelson Riddle. She was also a backing singer on many of the iconic records of the last forty years - “Heart of Gold”, “Graceland”, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, Little Feat, the lot. The danger with reading a book about an admired performer - the word ‘idol’ is silly - is that they might let you down. This book doesn’t. There’s confirmation of decent human being status (regretting the closure of the Mexican border, seeing through the nonsense of a Catholic education, rejection of drunken or druggy or simply ill-mannered behaviour). There are some surprises - didn’t know her grandfather invented the electric toaster - and some good anecdotes - she doesn’t pull her punches about loutish rock stars or corrupt agents. She is loyal to old boyfriends and partners, gracious about other women singers and, above all, enthusiastic about the music.
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on 24 June 2015
Reading this book is like sharing a coffee around the table with Linda. It is written in a beautiful, simple, unassuming style and speaks volumes for the character and integrity of the author - passionately interested in music and always looking to improve her skills.

No kiss and tell, no badmouthing, no bitching... just honest to goodness sharing her life.

I would thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 28 January 2014
I have always considered Linda to be a talented vocalist. She was the queen of 1970s west coast rock, had numerous hits singing cover versions and turned up on many other artists albums providing backing vocals. However, this book reveals how much she put into this craft, and how she strived to move into other areas of music by taking risks by performing opera on Broadway, performing with Nelson Riddle and recording traditional Mexican songs she had grown up with.
The book is a whistle stop tour through her career. She keeps to the music, so those wanting kiss and tell gossip will be disappointed. My only gripe is that Linda could have provided a bit more detail on some of her musical experiencesHaving said that, I enjoyed this immensely.
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on 3 August 2014
I didn't know much about Linda before l bought this, a friend recommended to to me saying you really don't even have to know who Linda is to enjoy this book. My friend was absolutely right as this book was a real joy. This is a journey through Linda's musical life and the people she has met along the way. Linda really gives a feel for the particular period in time she's talking about at any point in time.

If you're looking for a tell-all autobiography then you'll be disappointed: this book is full of memories about how hard Linda has worked to improve her craft and how she's helped others along the way. I've bought one of Linda's greatest hits CD's and now see that Linda can really sing just about any kind of music!
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on 16 December 2014
A pleasure to read a musicians biography without a pile of sordid going ons, Linda's life story and its all about the music - refreshing and a great read, plus I learned a few new things, so highly recommended.
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on 26 December 2014
As a fan it was an essential read. Her tour through her musical heritage makes you appreciate your own. Whilst I will mourn the loss of any new recordings she may have achieved it has made me happy to revisit her eclectic collection of beautiful music.
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on 21 June 2014
An amazing story told honestly and without affectation. A girl from a close, loving family, living in the Arizona desert, all with musical interests and talent, who became one of the greatest and most respected singers in recent decades. Now sadly unable to use that glorious voice, owing to a physical condition. In the book, Linda Ronstadt doesn't make reference to the devastating blow she suffered when she was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's. She merely makes one statement about "When my voice was healthy." Poignant, fascinating and at times very funny.
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on 27 January 2016
ENJOYED THIS BOOK. NO SCANDAL IN IT.
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