Posts Tagged ‘When Will I Be Loved’

Last night, I popped a recent find into the DVD player: a grey-market Linda Ronstadt release with the unimaginative title of Rare TV Appearances. Quality-wise, it ain’t much. The box sports a so-so cover picture of Linda at the microphone; and a back cover that advertises “more rare Linda DVDs.” Inside is a stamped DVD, but no insert that lists the featured clips. For that, one needs to either save or reference the disc’s contents from the label’s website.

December 17, 1969 – The Mike Douglas Show: “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”; “Break My Mind”

October 1970 – Darin Invasion: “Long Long Time”

1970 – Something Else: “Baby You’ve Been on My Mind”

November 3, 1973 – In Concert: “Love Has No Pride”; “Fill My Eyes”; “First Cut Is the Deepest”

November 20, 1974 – Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert: “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”; “When Will I Be Loved”; “Heart Like a Wheel”; “You’re No Good”; “You Can Close Your Eyes”; “Faithless Love”; “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”

December 31, 1974 – Rockin’ New Year’s Eve: “Love Has No Pride”; “You’re No Good”

May 23, 1975 – The Old Grey Whistle Test: 12-minute interview

December 6, 1975 – Capitol Theatre, NJ: “When Will I Be Loved”

November 28, 1976 – Hits a GoGo: “Lo Siento Mi Vida”; “That’ll Be the Day”

June 18, 1980 – Studio 3: “Mad Love”

January 8, 1983 – ChampsElysées: “Lies”

February 2, 1983 – Plantine 45: “Lies”

Visually speaking, the collection is akin to watching a worn VHS tape on an ancient tube TV – or, for those too young to remember the bulky cathode-ray wonders of yore, a YouTube playlist that includes clips from a variety of so-so sources. The latter hints at how I discovered it, in fact. Last week, I came across this 1975 interview with Linda…

…and there, in the clip’s description, was an advertisement for this DVD. I figured, for $12.99, why not give it a go? And after viewing it, I can say that – despite the varying video quality – the set is well worth the investment for Ronstadt fans, especially those of us who can never get enough. The disc charts, albeit in a haphazard manner, the evolution of her singing prowess, and includes her jaw-dropping rendition of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is the Deepest.”

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: Linda Ronstadt’s Rare TV Appearances.

1) “Break My Mind.” The oldest clip on the disc, Linda’s 1969 appearance (and solo TV debut) on The Mike Douglas Show, is also the worst. The audio is out of sync with the video, which can happen when encoding from videotape. How do I know? For one, it happened to me when I digitalized some old VHS recordings a few years back. For two, here’s one of the two songs she sang that day, and everything lines up as it should:

2) “Long Long Time.” In 1970, Linda had her first taste of solo success with this single, which reached No. 25 on the charts and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance. Here, she performs it on The Darin Invasion, a 1970 Bobby Darin TV special. (The performance is available in better quality on the Darin Invasion DVD.) 

3) “Love Has No Pride,” “Fill My Eyes” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” The DVD hits its stride with this three-song set lifted from ABC’s late-night In Concert series. All I can say is: Linda’s rendition of “The First Cut Is the Deepest” rivals P.P. Arnold’s. It’s amazing. One wonders if she was contemplating recording it at the time and, if she did, if an outtake exists somewhere in the vaults. (As an aside: The video quality is better on the DVD.)

4) “You’re No Good.” On December 31st, 1974, Linda shared the bill with Tower of Power, Billy Preston and the Pointer Sisters on Dick Clark’s second-ever New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which was hosted by George Carlin. The quality on DVD is far, far better than this clip, which (as of this writing) is the only YouTube video available for it.

5) “When Will I Be Loved.” Linda performs this classic Everly Brothers’ song, which was a No. 2 hit for her, at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, on Dec. 6, 1975.

And one bonus…

The seven-song set lifted from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert is a wonder to behold, but it’s not available in full on YouTube. Here’s one highlight: the J.D. Souther-penned “Faithless Love.”

(As noted in my first Essentials entry, this is an occasional series in which I spotlight albums that, in my estimation, everyone should experience at least once.)

It’s an album so good that I’ve bought it multiple times – first on vinyl, then CD, then via the two-CD The Best of Linda Ronstadt: The Capitol Years, which actually contains her four Capitol albums in full (plus a handful of bonus tracks), then on high-resolution (24/192) and now, for a second time, vinyl – though this last time it was a Christmas gift from my wife, so perhaps I shouldn’t count it.

In any event, it’s Linda’s greatest work.

Even that young (now old) curmudgeon Dave Marsh, in the (blue) Rolling Stone Record Guide, had nice things to say about it – after calling her “at best a competent craftsman, and at worst an empty-headed, soulless dispenser of music as sheer commodity,” that is. (Side note: I recall reading those words – and similar criticisms Marsh leveled against other artists I like[d] – in the early ‘80s and thinking he must have a hearing impairment. Because we certainly weren’t hearing the same thing.) To the point: Of this album, the first Ronstadt LP produced by Peter Asher, Marsh writes that her “voice was finally pitted against fine material and pushed to convey some of the spirit as well as the outline of the songs. ‘You’re No Good’ and ‘When Will I Be Loved’ actually are better than the Betty Everett and Everly Brothers originals, and the title song, written by Anna McGarrigle, represents Ronstadt’s first important discovery of a new writer.”

Now, I happen to like Linda’s earlier efforts. To my ears, they’re solid efforts accented by moments of sheer grace – her rendition of Jackson Browne’s “Rock Me on the Water,” from her eponymous third LP, is the best example. But Heart Like a Wheel is when she found her voice. She may not have written the songs, but she sure sounds – to me, at least – as if she’s lived them. The performances are letter-note perfect, passionate and dramatic, beginning with the album’s opening cut.

Other highlights include “It Doesn’t Matter Any More”…

…“Dark End of the Street”…

…the title cut…

…”When Will I Be Loved”…

…and “Willin’.”

And thus began a streak of LPs that helped define the 1970s, including such gems as Prisoner in Disguise, Hasten Down the Wind, Simple Dreams and Living in the USA. They all followed the pattern Asher and Ronstadt implemented so well on Heart – well-chosen oldies alongside songs from up-and-coming singer-songwriters. Each of those albums is worth picking up. But none sparkle as much as this gem.

Side 1:

  1. You’re No Good
  2. It Doesn’t Matter Any More
  3. Faithless Love
  4. Dark End of the Street
  5. Heart Like a Wheel

Side 2:

  1. When Will I Be Loved
  2. Willin’
  3. I Can’t Help If I’m Still in Love With You
  4. Keep Me From Blowin’ Away
  5. You Can Close Your Eyes

IMG_4955“You have an awful lot of Linda Ronstadt on here,” Diane said to me, about my Pono Player, while we were driving the other day.

It’s true. I’m a fan, and have been since buying Mad Love in 1980, when I was 14. That album doesn’t get much respect, these days, and didn’t at the time, either – at least, not in Rolling Stone and the rock press. But I liked it then and like it now, especially the one-two punch of “I Can’t Let Go” and “Hurt So Bad” that closes Side One, plus “How Do I Make You.” That LP led me, at year’s end, to get her Greatest Hits Volume Two collection – I chose it over Volume One simply because it was new; and, too, I loved the cover picture of her. Looks alone didn’t lead me to continue to shell out $5 to $7 per LP, however, which is what I did over the next few years while exploring, and enjoying, her back catalog. That voice was reason enough.LRGH_2

Anyway, at present, I have 11 albums by the raven-haired songstress on my player – second only to Neil Young. Some are high-resolutions, others not, and they include many of her classic ‘70s albums, including Heart Like a Wheel, as well as Mad Love, What’s New, a fairly comprehensive best-of and, now, Sausalito ’73, a set that was broadcast live from the Record Plant in Sausalito, CA, on KSAN-FM.

I’m fairly certain Sausalito is a gray-market release. I.e., not official and only available due to loopholes in the copyright laws. I bought it from Amazon for $12.99 – not a bad price, all things considered. In years past, when similar unofficial live recordings were considered out-and-out bootlegs, it would have set me back $25-30; and, honestly, I would’ve passed on it at that price.  For starters, the sound quality is far from pristine – I’d wager it was mastered from a listener’s home recording. There’s also a fair number of between-song lulls, with Linda and band deciding what next to play. At one point, she learns that “all this senseless mumbling and rehearsing” (her words) is going out live – and not the commercials she’d assumed was filling the break.

IMG_4959The big plus: It’s a time capsule that captures her just prior to her commercial breakthrough. As evidenced by the set, her sound was evolving from amiable country-rock into something a tad starker and more powerful. The new sonic style would flower in full on the following year’s Heart Like a Wheel, of course, and four songs from that LP are featured here, including “You’re No Good” and a smoky “Dark End of the Street.” Her cover of Jackson Browne’s “Rock Me on the Water” (from her 1972 eponymous album) is, as on vinyl, wondrous.

So, for today’s Top 5: Linda Ronstadt. These aren’t necessarily her best songs or performances, but five YouTube clips that I enjoy.

1) “I Never Will Marry” – with Johnny Cash from his TV show, 1969.

2) “When Will I Be Loved” – from a 1975 appearance on The Midnight Special.

3) “Willin’” – 1976 London.

4) “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me” – 1977 in Atlanta.

5) “How Do I Make You – 1980.

And… as a bonus, Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer” – with Emmylou Harris, from their 1999 Western Wall collaboration.