Top 10 Linda Ronstadt Songs That Leave You Breathless

Linda Ronstadt Songs

Feature Photo: Carl Lender, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

It would be easy to argue that Linda Ronstadt was the most popular female singer of the 1970s. Hit after hit, Linda Ronstadt’s wholesome vocals appealed to a mass audience that laid the foundation for a long, successful career. Linda Ronstadt’s songs intertwined country melodies and rock grooves, foreshadowing modern-day country pop in 2024. Furthermore, those great songs were elevated to an entirely new level, fueled by the pitch-perfect soulful county-blessed vocals of Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt’s recording career began in 1965 with her trio, The Stone Poneys. After releasing three albums with the Stone Poneys, Linda Ronstadt began a successful solo career, which has seen the release of over 30 studio albums.  During the course of her career, she earned thirteen Grammy Awards. In 1981, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the play The Pirates of Penzance “Mabel. In 1983, she became the first rock and roll star to release a jazz vocal album entitled What’s New?  

Linda Ronstadt had that same rock-pop country crossover appeal that bands like The Eagles had. The combination of her incredible radio-friendly, perfect pitch voice and knack for picking the right material to record garnished her incredible chart success. There are not many bands that can crossover on the charts like Linda Ronstadt was able to do. Bands and artists like The Beatles, Billy Joel, and Elton John appealed to a mass pop and rock audience. However, Linda Ronstadt’s appeal reached those same audiences and added the country audience and eventually the jazz and Broadway audiences. No one in music has ever done that before.

# 10 – Someone To Lay Down Beside Me

We open our Linda Ronstadt songs article with the beautiful song “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me.” The song’s tender opening is fueled by a haunting yet somewhat sweet piano solo that captures one’s attention instantly. That focus is quickly turned into a listening experience that is simply breathtaking as those mesmerizing vocals of the stunning Linda Ronstadt ring through the speakers. With every passing measure and every verse, the song just becomes more heart-stopping. And it’s all because of Linda.

“Someone To Lay Down Beside Me.” was released on the album Hasten Down The Wind. The title track was written by Warren Zevon. The song “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me,” was composed by Karla Bonoff. It was released as a single and peaked at number forty-two on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 9 – How Do I Make You

As the New Wave movement of 1979 raged across the globe, even singers like Linda Ronstadt were affected by the global interest in the new music genre. Linda Ronstadt’s album Mad Love contained a mixed bag of New Wave-inspired music intertwined with some old-school Linda Ronstadt. “How Do I Make You: featured the virtuoso vocals of Linda Ronstadt on top of a pulsating driving new wave groove that was simply all killer.

# 8 – Different Drum

We could not compose a Top 10 Linda Ronstadt Songs list without including her first big hit recorded with the Stony Poneys in 1967. The song “Different Drum,” has been a staple of FM radio since it was released in the late 1960’s. Mike Nesmith of The Monkees wrote the song. It reached the number thirteen position on the Billboard music charts in 1967. Just listen to the sound of that voice. No one sounded like Linda Ronstadt.

# 7 – When Will I Be Loved

The song “When Will I Be Loved” was written by Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. The song reached the Top 10 for The Everly Brothers when it was released in 1960. However, Linda Ronstadt had a penchant for re-recording hit songs and having even more success with her versions. Linda Ronstadt’s version reached the number two position on the Billboard charts in 1975. This song defined the classic Linda Ronstadt sound of the mid-seventies. If you were a fan of AM radio in the 1970s, you couldn’t turn on the radio for 15 minutes in 1975 without hearing this excellent recording.

# 6 – Hurt So Bad

The song “Hurt So Bad” was the second single from her 1980 Mad Love album. The song was originally recorded by Little Anthony & The Imperials. It was a top 10 song for Little Anthony & The Imperials back in 1960. Linda Ronstadt’s version also reached the top 10 in 1980. Her vocals on the song were simply stunning. Hands down, it is one of her most passionate performances. While the Mad Love album had a very new wave feel to the rest of it, this one paid tribute to Linda Ronstadt’s old-style.

# 5  – What’s New

Linda Ronstadt was, in essence, one of the first rock and roll stars to record an album of jazz standards that proved to be very successful. Others had done it before here, but none had the success that Linda had. From 1983 to 1986, Linda Ronstadt recorded three albums of standards. Truly great vocalists can sing anything, and Linda Ronstadt proved that point by delivering a stunning body of work in the jazz genre. Her first release, What’s New, and the title track have always been our favorite.

# 4 – Tracks of My Tears

It’s incredible how Linda Ronstadt could record songs that were originally massive hits and deliver even more stunning and successful versions of those songs. However, her version of this song was not as successful as Smokey’s. Not many singers would attempt to cover a Smokey Robinson song, but Linda Ronstadt made a career out of covering legendary vocalist songs. Linda Ronstadt’s version appeared on her 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise.

Linda Ronstadt put her own spin on “The Tracks of My Tears”, turning it into a hit that climbed into the top 40 on the US pop charts. Under the production of Peter Asher and released by Asylum Records as the album’s second single, Ronstadt’s rendition resonated with audiences, securing the number twenty five spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It also made an impressive showing on the Billboard C&W chart at number eleven 11, paired with its B-side, “The Sweetest Gift,” a duet with Emmylou Harris. Additionally, the track found its way onto the UK Singles Chart in 1976, peaking at number forty two.

# 3 – Ooh Baby Baby

If you thought Linda Ronstadt’s cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” was terrific, you would be blown away by her version of Smokey’s “Ooh Baby Baby.” The song was released on her 1978 Living in the U.S.A. album. At that point in time, Linda Ronstadt could do no wrong. Everything Linda Ronstadt recorded and released was huge. “Ooh Baby Baby” was a top 10 hit on multiple Billboard music charts.

It climbed to number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and secured seventh on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. while also appearing on the R&B and Country charts, hitting number eight-five on the country charts and seventy-seven on the US Billboard Hot Soul Single chart. Not many performances will chart on such a diverse set of music charts. David Sanborn performed the opening saxophone solo.

# 2 – You’re No Good

If the song “Different Drum” introduced Linda Ronstadt to the world, the song “Your No Good” augmented her place in popular music history for good. The song was released on her 1974 Grammy Award-winning album Heart Like A Wheel. It was an album that was eventually placed on the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Over the years, Linda Ronstadt recorded so many out-of-this-world vocal performances on vinyl, “Your No Good” will always stand as one of her best.

# 1 – Lose Again

Linda Ronstadt’s recording of “Lose Again” was, in essence, her most outstanding performance. Linda Ronstadt’s vocal performances on all her recordings have always been pitch-perfect. She has always lent tremendous energy and style to all her releases. However, on “Lose Again,” Linda Ronstadt delivered an emotionally fused vocal that stands as one of the most incredible popular music performances of all time. The song was the opening track on her 1975 album Hasten Down the Wind. The song was written by Karla Bonoff.

 

Linda Ronstadt Songs

Photo Carl Lender [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Professional Sources, research, experience, and citations

Charting information used in the analysis and research of the commercial success of these songs comes from Billboard Magazine Charts

https://www.billboard.com/charts/

https://www.billboard.com/artist/linda-ronstadt/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Ronstadt

https://www.arts.gov/honors/medals/linda-ronstadt

Further analysis and original thoughts are provided by the writer Brian Kachejian’s experience as a professional musician and music collector for over 50 years and his experience as a New York State certified music and history educator and professional music journalist with the New York Press.

Top 10 Linda Ronstadt Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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  1. Avatar Queen of Rock n Roll December 29, 2019
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