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Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley were the models on the covers of most of the fashion magazines of the 1970's. (Both Blondes). My two older, beautiful sisters are also blondes - so was Cinderella. Brown hair seemed so... Definitely-not-Grace-Kelly and Dull. As a brunette, I didn't have many high fashion icons - I was always happy to be inspired by stylish brunettes whenever and wherever I could find them - like the singers I loved.
Linda Ronstadt turns 67 years old today. My middle school, high school and college memories are embedded with that flawless voice and I can't listen to one of her songs without remembering an important life experience or a worthy milestone.
I was always inspired by Linda's fashion - bell sleeves, denim, head scarves.. off shoulder peasant blouses and early Betsey Johnson pieces. And that hair! I even cut bangs (which I still have) because I wanted so desperately to look like the "queen of rock and roll." Sadly, I didn't have her giant, round doe eyes, or her thick, straight black hair so it's no surprise that a hair cut made me look - not like Linda, but exactly like ME..still the same average eyes, but with wispy sort of "bent" bangs that never looked quite right. I also couldn't sing, so I guess the only thing we had in common was the color of our hair.
In MY day....(I can't believe I can say that now).. We didn't have reality stars or internet sensations - most young women in the 1970s and early 1980s identified with one of the few female rock/folk/pop stars of the time. The one you picked defined you, so you had to be selective. If you were a true bohemian, wrote poetry and marched at protest rallies, you might let your hair grow long and listen to Emmy Lou Harris, Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez. If you were edgier, wore leather and wanted everyone to think you were a bad-ass, you would channel Ann and/or Nancy Wilson of Heart, Grace Slick, Joan Jett or Patti Smith. But if you were like me, a nice girl wishing you were edgier than you actually were, obsessed with fashion and hormonally dramatic, you would lean towards Stevie Nicks, Carole King and Linda Ronstadt.
Before you assume I was 100% lame, you should know that I DID go to a Heart concert at the LA Forum (and loved them), and I saw Grace Slick and Patti Smith at a music festival and sang along to a few songs.. but it was Stevie and Linda who really spoke to me. (I also loved Karen Carpenter, another brunette, simply because her voice was pure and perfect, but that's another blog post entirely)!
I still have my original Linda Ronstadt albums - I loved them all, from the early days of the Stone Poneys, and on through Don't Cry Now, Heart Like a Wheel, Simple Dreams, What's New, Lush Life, Sentimental Reasons, Cry Like a Rainstorm, etc.. Who else could sing country, show tunes, folk, rock, Big Band, and Spanish songs with the same passion and authority? Linda Ronstadt had a voice that broke gender barriers and gave meaning to a generation.
I say that Linda Ronstadt "had" a voice because she no longer can sing. Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Linda Ronstadt has given up singing altogether.
It's a huge loss to the music industry that we will no longer hear the voice that brought us some of the best songs of a generation. Happy Birthday Linda Ronstadt from one brunette to another - you are irreplaceable.