Interviewer: Now growing up in that house (in Tucson), you had a very, very good friend, who taught you a lot–
Linda Ronstadt: The radio.
(YouTube interview with Dan Guerrero, Northridge, CA Sept. 29, 2015)
One of the YouTube rabbit holes I go down most frequently is the “Linda Ronstadt Live” rabbit hole. She could be stiff, she could be sing-songy…or she could be electrifying. Sometimes all in the same song. What she never was, was anything less than professional or perfectionist. You’re guaranteed a certain quality, then…but you have to search for more.
So, with Greil Marcus’ long ago mention of being “knocked out” by a version of “Back in the U.S.A.” in front of a big audience (30,000) in Oakland, (he doesn’t mention the venue), wandering around in my head, I thought “Live in Concert Linda Ronstadt San Diego, CA” sounded intriguing.
The performance Marcus mentions isn’t available, alas. But you can probably bet some idea of what he heard by listening to (and, just as importantly, watching) this, where she finally gets all the way inside “Heat Wave”…
…in front of the whitest audience ever assembled in any venue that wasn’t featuring Bruce Springsteen or Lawrence Welk (can’t any of these people clap on the beat?)…and leaves the stage with the happiest look I’ve ever seen on her face in however many hundred hours I’ve spent down her rabbit hole.
It’s almost like she has discovered…something.
Maybe just that the chubby girl from the back row, who only got through high school by “keeping a record player going constantly in my mind”…a record player that no doubt received many recommendations from her friend the radio, could no longer disbelieve in her ability to hold a stadium (the size of which is more evident in the only other available video from that concert) in the palm of her hand…
..singing a song she never had the least trouble getting inside of.