Linda Ronstadt's Simple Dreams

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Linda Ronstadt discusses her wide-ranging and unique musical journey. Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folkrock movement was taking off, and she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. In her memoir Simple Dreams, Ronstadt writes of her musical family, her artistic curiosity, and her varied career.

Linda Ronstadt realized at the age of four that she was a singer. But, she says, "I wasn’t a good singer for a long time. It took me 10 years." What was the missing ingredient? "I didn’t sing with a certain kind of freedom and a certain kind of abandon, where you’re absolutely lost."

She talked about how reading, looking at art, and watching ballet all influenced her music. "It would color every single note."

She also described how her hit song "Heart Like a Wheel," was a turning point for her: "It changed my life. It was like Eureka! I had found it..."

Linda Ronstadt’s career was filled with many collaborations with everyone from Aaron Neville to Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. But there's a certain art to collaboration: “It’s a whole litany of little crafty tricks and techniques that you have to do to sing with somebody else. It’s like being a sound chameleon.”

Although she’s never watched any of her own performances on YouTube, that hasn’t stopped her from finding other singers on the site: "In spite of the fact that YouTube has crappy sound and lousy picture, I love it. It’s so much fun."

She also described losing her voice, before she received her official Parkinson’s disease: "I didn’t think it was just age because I was listening to a lot of other people who were aging at the same rate that I was and their voice wasn’t changing the way mine was…And I knew it was mechanical. I knew it was muscular somehow…And that’s exactly what was happening…My voice would freeze up. It would cramp up."