New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

NJPAC Announces 7th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition Finalists Click here for the story!

An Interview With Linda Ronstadt

By Ilana Rapp

originally published: 08/01/2018

An Interview With Linda RonstadtLinda Ronstadt is a Grammy Award winning household name. She started singing at coffeehouses and small venues around the age of 14, and after a brief stint at college, she decided to move to Los Angeles.

Having been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2012 and no longer able to sing, Linda wrote a book in 2013 called Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir and has been making the rounds discussing her career.

She'll be on her book tour in the California area for the rest of 2018, but on May 2, 2019, she will be in NEW JERSEY at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.  Click here for info on the show.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Ronstadt after her last book tour in New York.


The article continues after this ad


Do you find singing as your passion or music or something else? 

Well, communicating. I love music but I think I sing to communicate. And I like music too.


When you were sick or tired, scheduling and you're travelling, did you ever get sick of music and communicating? 

I didn't get sick of music. I got sick of singing the same songs over and over again. We were always happy when we had something new in the show. It would make everything else feel new too.


Did it feel like you were forced into singing the same songs over and over again? 

It's hard to play in a different hall every night because the sound changes. The thing that's fun to do is get into a really good sounding room and play music in there regularly. That's where you can really refine stuff. So the grind of playing in a different hall everything night and playing in a different city every night, that was hard. But, we did it.


I read in your book that when you were playing the very big venues that you had to change the music around. 

The really subtle stuff wouldn't fly in there because there's too much ambient noise in all of those big halls. There's just a huge amount of .. there's a kind of roar. They're not acoustically developed for music. They're developed for stuffing a maximum about of bodies you can into a big spectacle. It was hard to fill those places up. They weren't very satisfying musically but they made a lot of money so automatically, as soon as they could run music acts in those venues, they'd do that. And I understand why, but it wasn't very satisfying.

Today's venues where they do all the lights and the dancing … how did YOU stay focused on music and have a humungous career without all of the pyrotechnic fire stuff going on. 

Well, they knew who I was. I was always interested in music first, so there was no question. I don't express myself in that way. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, it's just isn't who I am.


Did people say to you that you have to have all of this big to-do in the background? 

No, it wasn't the style then. The style was just to get up and present your music the best you could.


What about today with the big stage shows? If you were going to talk to the youth today, would they stay focused on music more or the whole show in general? 

I would say that art is very personal and everybody finds their own individual things they respond to. Don't be afraid to respond. Like a lot of mainstream stuff. I like some stuff because it is a spectacle. Michael Jackson was amazing on stage; he was brilliant.


You saw him? 

Michael Jackson, yeah. I saw him once.


For the music selection, how much involvement did you have with that and the arranging and the producing. 

I always chose the songs, everything, for better or for worse. I had a big hand in the arrangement. Always when I worked with Nelson Riddle, he wrote the arrangements. We would have head sessions beforehand and I was very specific about different areas that I wanted to be a certain way; this would be legato, the orchestra would come in here... otherwise I'd bow to his vastly superior ability. The rock n roll stuff I had a bigger hand in the arrangements. I also had a say in the production because I was there in the process all the way from cutting the tracks to mixing at the end; mastering.

That was during solo or in the very beginning when you were touring with the band? 

In the very beginning, nobody had any power over anything. We did what we were told, pretty much. When I was playing with the Stone Poneys, we would try to do our music but they had a big hand in saying they would bring in extra musicians. 


How did you feel when they asked you to go solo without the other two? 

I didn't have an act. I didn't have material. I didn't have the ability and the skill. I didn't know what I was doing. I felt bad to leave my bandmates behind, so I resisted that. But then when we got back from touring with The Doors, Kenny Edwards, our main guitar player, decided to go to India. He wanted to go learn something about philosophy. So he left and that broke up the band. So Bobby [Kimmel] went and got a job running a music club and that left me by myself. Kenny came back and when he did, he joined my band.


Do you have any thoughts on today's music vs. the music that you grew up with? Today's music is a lot of electronic dance music, overproduced music, people are using those tuners on their voice during their concert.  

There's only so much you can polish up something that's ugly. Most of the stuff that is successful is there because of the talents of the people that are doing it regardless of whether they're tuned or have electronic tracks or whatever they have.  You can't consistently make something good if you don't have talent. You know, it's garbage in, garbage out. It's a different sensibility. I don't care for that kind of music but it's more because of the generation that I am than it is musical.


If you were going to pop something into your CD player today, will it be more old music or something from today's music? 

I like Sia, she's pretty good. I like Alicia Keys. I don't listen to music at home very much, to tell the truth. I listen to live music if I can get out to a concert and that's mostly classical music. I listen to music when people come over to my house and play it in my living room. Otherwise, I poke around on YouTube and look for stuff. Again, it's a lot of opera.


When you chose songs that you wanted to sing, did the writer get paid? How does that work? 

You'd have to look up publishing law. I don't really know exactly how it works. When I record somebody's else song that goes on a record, the record company has to pay royalties to that writer.


In the beginning, you found songs yourself. Did you go up to somebody and say, "Hey, can I sing your song?" 

They'd be singing at a party at somebody's house after a show. Somebody would pull out a guitar and say, "I wrote this song last week." I would say, "That's pretty good. I'd like to record that." It happened more in a social manner.


Then the publisher would get involved and take over from there? 

I don't know.


With the current administration, what are your thoughts on health insurance for entertainment, social security and things like that? 

I think it's in dire peril.


Wasn't it in dire peril anyway? 

No, because they were moving more toward single payer health care plan. Medicare for all, is what I believe in. The government pays for it single payer. I think the Republicans are going to try to gut Medicare and social security. They're going to try to take it away.


I'm trying to figure out how my kids are going to survive in the music business. 

Well, you better run for office or start voting. One or the other. Get them to read the New York Times, that's a good start.


That's a great idea. They each have tablets and they do have the New York Times app on there. 

It's better to have the physical paper. They retain more if they see it on the physical paper. Get the subscription.


Every day or just Sunday? 

Every day! Things don't just happen on Sunday.


An Interview With Linda Ronstadt

With Parkinson's Disease, you said you knew there was something wrong because your voice was going. What happened when you got the diagnosis? Were you scared to death or not really? 

There wasn't anything I could do about it. I had to accept it.


Was is scary that you knew you weren't going to be able to sing in the future? 

I already couldn't sing.


What do you do now? Do you have extra time on your hands because you're not physically performing? Do you fill it with something? 

I'm happy to be retired.


Is that possible? You're on a book tour! 



Regarding people's sensitivity and emotions... with me, I really have no patience with people who are super emotional. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells with them. What about you? 

I don't know. It depends on the person.


Do you get fed up with people at all? 

I try to avoid those people I get fed up with.

And with that, Linda told me it was getting close to dinner time, so we wrapped up the interview!

To order Linda Ronstadt's book Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir, click HERE.


Ilana Rapp is a media-savvy Generation Xer with instinctive wit, quick humor and a taste for deep human emotions. As a former (child) actress with Broadway, film and television credits, she is adept at, well, lots of things.

She has blogged on The Huffington Post and writes entertainment pieces for NYCastings.

She is a huge fan of the television show V. Ask her why her favorite number is 22.

Follow Ilana on Twitter @LizardLadyNJ

State Theatre Presents Brian Wilson: Greatest Hits Live With special guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson: Greatest Hits Live with special guests Al Jardine,original founding member of The Beach Boys, and singer/guitarist and former Beach Boy, Blondie Chaplin on Thursday, November 1 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $59-$129.
Art Garfunkel To Perform At Rowan U
(GLASSBORO, NJ) – Legendary vocalist Art Garfunkel will perform at Rowan University on March 16, 2019 as part of the university’s Marie Rader Presenting Series. The award-winning voice of a generation will take his audience on a musical journey through a career spanning more than 60 years.
The Weeklings To Perform At Monmouth University During Beatles Symposium
(WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University presents The Weeklings on November 8th at 8:00pm. The one-night engagement featuring selections from The Beatles legendary White Album performed with live horns and strings as well as many of your Weeklings favorites. This concert serves as one of the highlights at The Beatles’ The White Album: An International Symposium taking place from November 8 – 11 on Monmouth University’s campus.
Westminster Community Orchestra Presents “Halloween!” on October 28
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Westminster Community Orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs and Sergey Tkachenko, will present a concert titled “Halloween!” on Sunday, October 28 at 3:00pm in the Robert L. Annis Playhouse on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ.  The Halloween-themed program features the Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach, “Funeral March of a Marionette” by Gounod, “Mars” from Holst’s The Planets, the first movement of Schubert’s Symphony No. 4, “Tragic,” Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant défunte and the “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark by John Williams, as well as special selections for strings. The program also showcases the talents of Westminster Conservatory’s Suzuki Violin Program.
Westminster Schola Cantorum Performs Faure's Requiem on October 28
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Westminster Schola Cantorum, led by conductor James Jordan, will perform Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem on Sunday, October 28 at 7:30pm in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. The program also features John Tavener’s Funeral Ikos and Geistliches Lied, Op. 30 as well other works centered Fauré’s choral masterwork.

“Brilliant!” The Young Dubliners LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a mild Saturday, September 29, 2019 evening as fans of Celtic rock are streaming into Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts for a concert by The Young Dubliners.
A Tribute to Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, and Frankie Valli at the PNC Bank Arts Center
A huge crowd is gathered here on this beautiful September 27, 2018 afternoon at Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center today for a live concert tribute to the music of Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
An Interview with Rusty Young Who Celebrates 50 Years of Poco this Saturday at SOPAC!
Steel pedal guitarist Rusty Young is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country rock band he helped to create, Poco, with a live performance by the group at 8pm this Saturday, October 13, 2018 at South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, NJ!
Story Behind The Song: "Arizona Sky" by Diego Allessandro
From the corporate strip mall wastelands of suburbia in Central New Jersey, Diego Allessandro's trademark sound blending Americana with 80s and 90s pop and 2000s punk has earned him two nominations in the Asbury Music Awards Top Americana Band category with his former band Lot 25. He's back with This American Life - his first full length solo effort since 2014's The Losin' Kind. He's shared the video for "Arizona Sky" with New Jersey Stage and provides us with the story behind the song.
"A Really Great Vibe!" Michael McDonald's Wide Open 2018 Tour LIVE! at the State Theatre
The crowds are lining up outside New Brunswick, NJ’s State Theatre this Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 for a performance by the legendary singer and songwriter, Michael McDonald, on this Garden State stop of his 2018 Wide Open tour!

Event calendar
Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018


MUSIC OF CREAM @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

An Evening with Wyclef Jean @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

Newark Downtown District 20th Anniversary Concert @ Chambers Plaza @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 5:00pm

Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up The Girl 20th Anniversary Tour @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

View all events


more in music



An Interview With Linda Ronstadt

From the Ballpark to the Concert Stage: Bernie Williams LIVE! at The Grunin Center

An Experience to Remember: Choir! Choir! Choir! LIVE! at Ocean County College

Vinnie Medugno LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center

Larry Weiss: A Second Chance At A First Impression

For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.