Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Voice is Gone, But the Echoes Are Forever

I've always said that if I could have another person's vocal cords transplanted into my body, there really was only one option.

It was a dream that, however improbable, gave me hope that there was a chance in hell I might someday sing like an angel.

But now that dream is gone. Because that voice has been silenced.

According to, the magnificent Linda Ronstadt, 67, is suffering from Parkinson's disease. Aside from the familiar symptoms - tremors, difficulty moving and walking - the disease, Ronstadt, says, has taken her singing voice.

Linda Ronstadt, unable to sing? That is a cosmic crime against nature, against beauty, and against music.

It always seemed unfair that this face should also possess that voice.
Leave something for the rest of us, Linda.
I don't remember a time when I didn't love Linda Ronstadt's voice. My mom used to play her Stone Poneys and early solo stuff while she cleaned house. And my dad thought she was HOT and bought her landmark 70s albums like Simple Dreams and later her torch-song collaborations with Nelson Riddle.

I loved the way her voice ranged from a purr to a roar, and that little sobbing hitch she would put in the slow songs (especially on Tim Buckley's "Hobo," one of my favorite songs ever). I've tried my whole life (or at least since 1977) to replicate the final note of her version of "Blue Bayou" and haven't nailed it yet. Although I never warmed up to her covers of Buddy Holly songs, I literally could listen to her sing anything, even a local snowplow commercial.

God, I love that episode.

If Linda Ronstadt can never sing again, all the songs she's recorded have just become precious artifacts. To hear "Different Drum" or "Don't Know Much" and know that the voice behind them is gone, trapped inside a body that can no longer produce those beautiful sounds, makes me incredibly sad, yet incredibly grateful that the recordings exist. There is some justice in the world, after all.

Linda, I wish you a gentle and easy journey through the rest of your days. To me, you will always be that beautiful sound that floated from my speakers and made me happy, no matter how sad the song. Thank you for sharing your voice with those of us who could only dream of singing along. I'm sorry you know how it feels to be someone who can't sing.  Yeah, it sucks. But you had the gift, and you gave it to all of us to carry on in our hearts. I'm honored to do so.


  1. The song at our wedding was "Don't know much" she obviously holds a special place in my heart. I was so sad when I heard this...

  2. The song at our wedding was "Don't know much" she obviously holds a special place in my heart. I was so sad when I heard this...

  3. Thanks for this -- my husband has Parkinson's, so I am acutely aware of its cruelty. And when artists like Linda Ronstadt and Richard Thompson lose the ability to create their art, it's an especially cruel blow.


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