Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just One Look

Song: Just One Look
Artist: Linda Ronstadt
Album: Living in the U.S.A.

My Mother, when discussing my love for music, often tells a story about the time that she and her best friend at the time were discussing female singer Linda Ronstadt, and were arguing about which album a particular song was on. As they continued to argue, I had made my way to the record shelf, pulled out the correct album, and handed it to them. I was just shy of two years old. (True story.)

I grew up with Linda Ronstadt. My other two smaller anecdotes of her music involve me singing “Blue Bayou” at a wedding my parents were at with the band at five years old, and then often being misidentified as a beaten child because I often, and repeatedly, sang “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” as simply “Poop, poor, me me… poor poor me” over and over. Kids will sing the darnedest things! While Linda was my world for my early formative years, she was sort of like… EVERYONE’S world for the 70’s and beyond. I was recently recalling my early years, and Linda, and thought about just how far she’d fallen out of the cultural consciousness. While she has continued to tour and record new material, she hasn’t had anything close to a major hit since 1989’s “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind” which scored the AC radio sensations “Don’t Know Much” and “All My Life.” But Linda has had a full career with many different incarnations. She founded her career doing country-rock, and has also done pop albums, Mexican influenced records, and a trio of albums full of standards.

While I knew that Linda Ronstadt was big in the 70’s and into the 80’s, I just didn’t know HOW big. Her Wikipedia page is in interesting read and I recommend it, but her career highlights are worth noting:

• As of the end of 2006, Ronstadt's albums have earned her three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, four No. 1 albums on Billboard's Country Album chart, 10 Top 10 pop albums and 27 Top 100 pop albums.
• As of the end of 2006, Ronstadt's singles have earned her a No. 1 single and three No. 2 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, 10 Top 10 pop singles, 21 Top 40 pop singles, two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Country Single chart, two No. 1 hits and 37 Top 40 hits on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts
• She has recorded over 30 studio albums and has made guest appearances on over 100 other albums.[100] Some notable guest appearances included the classical minimalist Philip Glass's album Songs from Liquid Days, a hit Classical record with other major Pop stars either singing or writing lyrics, she also appeared on Glass's follow up recording; 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, an appearance on Paul Simon's Graceland, she voiced herself in The Simpsons episode "Mr. Plow" and sang a duet "Funny How Time Slips Away" with Homer Simpson on The Simpsons: The Yellow Album. Ronstadt has also recorded on albums with artists as diverse as: Emmylou Harris,Dolly Parton,Neil Young, J. D. Souther, Gram Parsons, Bette Midler, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Earl Scruggs, The Eagles, Andrew Gold, Hoyt Axton, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Mark Goldenberg, Ann Savoy, Karla Bonoff, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, Nicolette Larson, the Seldom Scene, Rosemary Clooney, and Aaron Neville.
• Some of her biggest-selling studio albums to date are her 1977 release Simple Dreams, 1983's What's New, and her 1989 release Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, each one certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for over 3 million copies sold. Her highest-selling album to date is the 1976 compilation, Greatest Hits, certified for over 7 million units sold as of 2001.[101]
• Cash Box named her the top-selling female pop singer of the 1970s.[102]
• Her RIAA certification (audits paid for by record companies or artist for promotion) tally as of 2001, now totals 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and 8 Multi-Platinum albums.[103] as well as 3 Gold and even 1 Platinum single release. In all, Ronstadt has been certified by the RIAA for sales in excess of 50 million albums worldwide and 30 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, as of 2001. However, Ronstadt's Real Sales (statistics used to pay the artist their royalties) information indicate that several more certifications are currently in effect and being upgraded. Since there is a wide difference between real sales and certifications, Ronstadt shows real sales of 48 million album units moved in the US and nearly 70 millions album units sold worldwide. [104]
• She was the first female in music history to score 3 consecutive platinum albums and ultimately racked up a total of 8 consecutive platinum albums.[105]
• Her album Living In The USA is notable for being the first album by any singer, in music history, to ship double platinum (over 2 million advanced copies).[106]
• At the time of its release, Canciones de mi Padre became the best-selling non-English-language album in American history.
• Ronstadt has served as record producer on various albums from musicians David Lindley and Aaron Neville to singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb.[107] She produced Cristal — Glass Music Through the Ages, an album of classical music using glass instruments with Dennis James, and Ronstadt singing on several of the arrangements.[108] In 1999, Linda also produced the Grammy Award winning Trio 2.
• She has received a total of 27 Grammy Award nominations in various fields from Rock,Country, and Pop, to Tropical Latin.
• She has won 11 Grammy Awards in fields including Pop, Country, Tropical Latin, Musical Album for Children, and Mexican-American.
• Linda Ronstadt was the first female solo artist to have two Top 40 singles simultaneously on Billboard magazine's Hot 100: "Blue Bayou" and "It's So Easy" (October 1977). By December, both "Blue Bayou" and "It's So Easy" had climbed into Billboard's Top 5 and remained there for the entire month. Linda Ronstadt's run on the Billboard charts includes one single or album charted every year from 1970 to 2000.
• As a singer-songwriter Ronstadt has also written songs covered by several artists, such as "Winter Light" covered by Sarah Brightman, and "Try Me Again" covered by Trisha Yearwood.
• Ronstadt's songwriting choices have come from artists as notable as: Lowell George, Zevon, Costello, Souther, Newman, the Rolling Stones, Patty Griffin. SinĂ©ad O'Connor, Julie Miller, Bob Dylan. Mel Tillis, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Brian Wilson, John Hiatt, the Everly Brothers, Seldom Scene, Bruce Springsteen, George Jones, Tracy Nelson, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Little Feat, Neil Young, the Miracles, Roy Orbison with Joe Melson and Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

“Just One Look” may not even be my favorite Linda Ronstadt song, but I do just love it. Initially best known in the Hollies version, “Just One Look” can be found on Linda’s “Living in the U.S.A.” from 1978, one of my favorite records of hers. It is so hard to pick a favorite when I look through her career’s worth of music and it is for this reason that I rank “Linda Rondstadt’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2” as a MUST have record. It not only has one great song after another, but it also defines the 70’s and the change of direction music took during that time. Rhino recently released a single disc compilation of these two Greatest Hit packages together. Get it now.


Here are a few killer songs and performances:

Different Drum

You’re No Good

It’s So Easy

Living in the U.S.A.


the heff said...

You are indeed a savant. Thanks for the linkage.

BrianF said...

Wow - that is a pretty awesome collection of facts & figures. It's so easy (hehehe) to forget just how big she was (and how big she has gotten).

BTW - Just One Look was a top 10 hit in 1963 for soul singer Doris Troy, who also wrote the song. After her solo career peaked, she moved to the UK and became a backup singer for groups like the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Yes - that's her wailing on Dark Side Of The Moon.