The Hit Parader Interview
an interview with Lisa Robinson

Hit Parader, March 1978

Hit Parader cover Linda Ronstadt Hit Parader - Linda Ronstadt

In the midst of her recent tour, just before her latest LP, ôSimple Dreams" went platinum, Linda Ronstadt reflected on how it's all been going this time.

Lisa: How's it been on the road? Did you get sick or something?

Linda: I was sick last summer with real bad flu. You know me, I don't get sick, I hadn't been sick in five years. And I didn't go to bed and it turned into strep, and then got complicated by allergies. I got some weird shot for the allergy and that screwed up all my natural cycles. I got all kinds of female complications from that and it all went nuts at once. On top of all that, this is a new band and the new kind of adjusting we had to do was real intense.

This is an amazing band, it's the best band I've ever had. Also, it's an amazing group of people. Everybody is real intense, and also, everybody's real out front. It was very hard on me. Every single one of us went through amazing changes and we all got an education. All of us had to look at the best and the worst sides of ourselves. Mainly me.

Lisa: Don't you go through this every time you tour?

Linda: Yes, you do every time, but to varying degrees depending on how intense the personalities are who are involved. And, as good as the music was, it was difficult for us all to adjust to.

Lisa: Is it totally new, or do you have some of the old guys with you?

Linda: Oh, I have three of the old guys, but then I have these two New York guys. And so it was a little bit like New York and LA lifestyles adjusting to each other. The band's gotten incredibly close, everybody's real tight now. Instead of being polite and just getting along, amazing friendships have developed from it.

caption: 'Instead of just being polite or just
getting along, amazing friendships have developed.'

Lisa: You know, the last time we talked you said you always have this relationship with the band where you have to give a little bit of yourself to all of them, you know - pay attention to all the band members and so forth...

Linda: Well this time it just happened faster and a lot more intensely. And the other thing is, I was worrying too much. You know I just take it personally if I feel that someone isn't completely happy all the time. Regardless of whether it has anything to do with the tour or whether it's something outside of the tour. I'm always sort of terrified that people aren't happy in the tour.

caption: 'I have a real hard time with
an unstructured existence.'Lisa: Do you still get nervous on stage and stuff!

Linda: OH GOD!!

Lisa: Last time you said you had to get drunk to get out there...

Linda: Well I got drunk for one show. I can't drink a lot. I'm allergic to it. So I just got drunk for one show and it made the fear of it go away. But I couldn't do that on this tour. I was too sick and I couldn't do anything. So I just had to contend with my nerves and eventually it went away.

Lisa: You've been acclaimed as the top female singer in the country, all these awards and so forth. How do you relate to all that? Does it give you pleasure? Make you nervous?

Linda: Mostly I don't relate to it, and when I do think about it, it just makes me more nervous. You know, cause it's something to kind of live up to. And when I feel weak, I don't think I can. Everybody goes through cycles of weakness and strength in their lives. At the beginning of this tour it was just very unusual circumstances and everything sort of went wrong at once. But the fact that we did get through it with flying colors - and I mean flying colors - it just made me real reinforced in terms of the personalities on the tour and the fact that everybody has human feelings.

Lisa: Did you take any time off before you did the album and before the tour?

Linda: I came home with six months off and I was going to stay home, but I went to New York and just hung out. When I was in New York playing I really worked harder at playing and having fun than I did when I was working. I would come back from New York just exhausted ... but it was fun. And from that I got so much input. I got this whole album together, all the ideas for the concept of the album and the tour, and what the whole focus of it was. Also, I met these New York musicians there ... so even when I was in New York playing, I brought home enormous amounts of stuff to put back into my work from that. I don't know what I'd do with six months really off. I can't sit around and do nothing, it drives me crazy. I really have a hard time with an unstructured existence.

caption: 'I had six months off but went to New
York and worked harder at having fun that I did at working...'

Lisa: I thought you wanted to start writing songs more, why didn't you for this album?

Linda: Well, like I've said before, I don't really consider myself a songwriter, I was really amazed I wrote that song. That's not really something that I do. Some people sit down everyday and they write, but I don't do that. I have a few ideas cooking, but my goal in life is not to be a songwriter. The fact that I wrote a song was like an added bonus in my life. But something pretty intense has to happen and it's got to be something I can write about in pretty specific terms. That whole combination of events has to happen in order for me to write a song. I just don't have the kind of craftsmanship that a writer would have to have to construct things out of every day experiences, in a way that makes it real interesting. I mean Paul Simon is the most gifted at that. He can write songs outside of his own experience so eloquently.

Lisa: How has the music been on this tour? I heard it was more rock and roll...

Linda: It's more rock and roll, but it's just the best band I've ever had. The level of musicianship is so high. This band is really exceptional. I was worried at first, because Dan Grolnick loves jazz, you know, and he can play so much more stuff than the stuff he plays in my music. And I worried a lot that he would feel frustrated. But in fact, in his own words, what a great musician always searches for is musical agreement. And if there's musical agreement going on on the stage, then a musician will get off. And when I realized that those guys were getting off on the music ... well, it wasn't up to me to entertain the band and the audience. So I stopped worrying. Because the audience seemed to like it.

Lisa: Why did you start wearing little shorts and tops onstage? Did it help you feel sexier, or funkier, more in keeping with the music?

caption: 'You can't do Tumbling Dice in some silly
sort of dress.'Linda: Well I wore shorts one night halfway by accident. The night before I'd worn a dress that made me feel real polite and stupid, and by communication failure, the girl who's helping me with my clothes brought the same dress the next night. I thought to myself that I couldn't get back in that dress, so I wore shorts. The shorts were too big though, so the next day we all went and bought all these different things everyone thought I should wear.

I sing better according to what I wear. First of all, all these summer gigs are real hot because they're in outdoor pavilions. It's been real muggy and hot, and you can't wear anything that's going to be hot to start with. And there's just something about sports clothes that lend themselves to movement, to feeling a little bit freer with your body. They also look real good. Dresses for some reason ... well, some are good. Sometimes I like dresses, but they're difficult and awkward and all. It's sort of like when you would go to the prom and do the bop in your formal, you know. You would feel stupid. I had all these great dresses made and they're beautiful and I love wearing them standing there singing a ballad, but you can't do "Tumbling Dice" in some silly sort of dress.

Lisa: Why did you choose to do "Tumbling Dice"?

Linda: The band used to play that all last summer at sound check. I really loved it too, but nobody knew the words. Then Mick came backstage when I was at the Universal Amphitheater and he said, "You do too many ballads, you should do more rock and roll songs." I, of course told him he should do more ballads, because I think he's a great ballad singer.

Of course, he's a great rock and roll singer too, but I'm especially fond of his ballad singing. So we started to tease each other, with me telling him to do more ballads and him telling me to do more rock and roll, then I thought well, nobody's right ... rock and roll as a concept, you know, hardly anybody really writes rock and roll anymore. The greatest rock and roll writers were in the fifties and sixties except for him, he's the greatest contemporary rock and roll singer, rock and roll writer ... I mean that as opposed to rock, what they call rock music now. So I made him write down the words to that song and I learned it and we started doing it.

Lisa: Do you have any desire to start playing guitar onstage?

Linda: No, I'm such a limited guitar player, really. I mean we used me to play guitar on this one little tune because I was the only one who played bad enough, you know. It was like one of those things where you don't want something too polished. To say the least. And my playing was just the right kind of feel for that tune. I wanted it to sound home made.

Lisa: What about piano, are you playing piano, were you trying to learn?

Linda: I was going to start and I didn't. I went to New York instead.

Back to Articles/Interviews | Back to Main Page