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 as “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 Besides Me
Starting out our Top 10 Linda Ronstadt song list is the great Karla Bonoff song, “Someone to Lay Down Besides Me.” The song was released on the Hasten Down the Wind album. When the album was released in 1976, one could not walk into a record store without bumping into a large cardboard display of the album’s beautiful cover. The album was heavily promoted by Linda Ronstadt’s record company turning the album into a huge success.
# 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
There is no way we could 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. The song was written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. It reached all the way top No.13 on the Billboard music charts in 1967. Just listen to that 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 No 2 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 miunutes in 1975 without hearing this great 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, 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 old-style Linda Ronstadt.
# 5 – What’s New
Linda Ronstadt was in essence the first rock and roll start to record an album of jazz standards. What eventually became commonplace for aging rock stars like Rod Stewart in turning to standards albums, was unheard of when Linda Ronstadt made the move. 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 has always been our favorite.
# 4 – Tracks of my Tears
It’s amazing how Linda Ronstadt was able to record former songs that were huge hits and deliver even more stunning and successful versions of those songs. Not many singers would attempt to cover a Smokey Robinson song, but Linda Ronstadt made a career out of covering legendary vocalists’ songs. Linda Ronstadt’s version appeared on her 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise.
# 3 – Ooh Baby Baby
If you thought Linda Ronstadt’s cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of my Tears,” was amazing, you will be blown away by her versions 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.
# 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 vocals 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 greatest performance. Linda Ronstadt’s vocal performances on all her recordings have always been pitch-perfect. She has always lent tremendous energy and styles to all her releases. However, on “Lose Again,” Linda Ronstadt delivered an emotionally fused vocal that stands as one of the greatest popular music performances of all time. The song was the opening track on her 1975 album Hasten Down the Wind.
Top 10 Linda Ronstadt Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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