Traveling to the beat of a different drum


Spring, 1968.  I’m a 17-year-old high school senior.  Every day after school, I drive to the north of Orinda to work on a deck I’m building for some crazy psychiatrist.

And every day, just as I turn onto Miner Road, listening to KYA radio,  the same song comes on.  “Different Drum”, by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys.  Fifty-one years later, and I can still hear every note in my head, just the way they sounded coming out of the cheap speaker of my 1961 Plymouth Valiant.

This all comes up because we saw Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice this afternoon.  It’s spectacular.  Delightful.  Heartbreaking.  Eye-opening. Wonderful.  Not to be missed. A pleasure for the ears, eyes and heart.

Linda was a much greater talent than I ever imagined.  Capable of singing in virtually every genre, from rock to country to comic opera.  In English and Spanish.

Born and raised in Tucson, Ronstadt was surrounded by music all her life from both of her parents.  At 18, she left for LA to be a star.  That worked out well for her.

Buckets of awards.  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Multiple-Platinum albums.  A few mature high-profile relationships, notably with Jerry Brown.  No problems with drugs or alcohol.  Two adopted kids, kept well out of the spotlight.

Then, disaster.  Parkinsons disease, the same thing that killed her grandmother. She is no longer capable of singing.  Her final concert was in 2009.

Ronstadt is still here, still able to talk and work and make an impressive movie that will find ways to move you to tears without a shred of self-pity or whining.

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.  Showing in Berkeley.  You’ll love it.


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