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It’s hard to remember a time in my life when Linda Ronstadt wasn’t singing in the background. For a while, she was everyone’s favorite singer, and for a lifetime, she was my mother’s. Ronstadtphilia rubbed off on me early on and I’ve been a devoted fan my whole life as well.

I’m fairly certain I have the distinction of being the only high school boy in history who carried around an LP copy of “What’s New.” CARRIED AROUND IN SCHOOL! I carried it around in school! AN LP! It’s a miracle I’m alive today, now that I think about it. But maybe Linda was a shield or a force field, a protector all that—all this—time.

My mother has been ill for the last nine or ten months and did indeed die a couple of weeks ago, 

The whole final bit had Linda Ronstadt threaded through it. Mom’s focus wasn’t the greatest over the last weeks of her life, so I spent a lot of time tossing subjects in the air, trying to find something that would engage her conversationally. We would talk about something for three minutes, her interest and energy would flag, and then we’d move on to something else. Cormac McCarthy, Jeopardy, pancakes for dinner, whether the guy who mows the yard should do it on the diagonal because it looks “ritzier,” a shocking, suddenly revealed lifelong antipathy towards Patty Duke (“I hate her,” she spat, to my astonishment. I mean, what did Patty Duke ever do to my mom?) and on and on. 

Everything got three minutes. Everything but Linda Ronstadt, who got way more than that because Mom could remember a lot of Linda Ronstadt song lyrics. And look, my mother loved to sing. She couldn’t but she did, and when she let loose a few weeks ago with her version of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” in a key that can only be described as “mesa-flat,” I was a little bit surprised the tumor in her lung didn’t jump out of her body and demand a new host on the spot.

Since she died, I’ve had Linda in my earholes pretty consistently. Whether I’m cleaning the kitchen or packing up a box of books from Mom’s library or packing up a box for you or knitting a few rows of Mom’s unfinished last project—a dish towel—it’s been the pleading, sorrowful tone of Ronstadt’s voice that’s been shadowing me. 

From “Different Drum” (which I since saw a drag queen lip sync to, during which she also did the splits and drank a glass of Tang … like you do) through Heart Like a Wheel and Mad Love and the Pirates of Penzance and the Nelson Riddle records all the way through the bajillion other Ronstadt classics (I counted; there are exactly a bajillion), I’ve worked my way to the end of her oeuvre (the album Adieu False Heart, with Ann Savoy) and started it all up again. 

So this week, I am telling you to knit to Linda Ronstadt. It doesn’t matter which song or album or version of Ronstadt you choose (though I wholeheartedly recommend “Hasten Down the Wind”). Turn it up just loud enough that she’s singing louder than you are, because look, I may or may not know you, but I know you are not a better singer than Linda Ronstadt. 

The song my mother sang so very, very off-key in her final days has a lyric that says “silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine” and while the lyric means something different, I’m not so sure about the song’s inability to mend. It’s doing a pretty damned good job.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.

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128 Comments

  • Oh, DG, I’m so sorry for your loss. Perhaps, maybe, there’s a little bit of relief mixed in. Nothing heals like music…
    Linda Ronstadt! I’m older than you, so I didn’t really start listening to her until college, but her voice just blew me away. Ironic that such a superb voice is also one that inspires off-key singing along – by me (I’m sure you are always in key!).
    May you walk in beauty. Peace. ❤️

  • Beautiful story about Linda and your mom. Sending big hugs your way!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace.

  • So sorry that you lost your Mom, DG. Linda Ronstadt is a favorite in our house too. Chloe

    • DG, I wish you peace. My Grandma liked Blue Bayou, and I loved Heat Wave.

  • So sorry for your loss. May your mom’s memory always be a blessing.
    I’m a longtime fan of Linda Ronstadt too. Think I’ll be playing her music today.

  • My condolences to you, DG. My late parents liked the collaboration with Nelson Riddle.

  • So sorry for your loss… words cannot express. As a teen in the seventies Linda Ronstandt was always on the radio. I still love to hear her songs. Your mother is with you when you listen to her music.

  • My sincerest sympathies. Loved Linda too since high school, although I left all my records home. Isn’t music wonderful, can bring us back to another time, or help us through a current one?

  • Dear DG, I know the pain of losing my mother as well. I think Linda would be proud to know she has helped you through a difficult time. She was and is one of my very favorite singers, I’m closer to your Mom’s age so I remember Linda with the Stone Ponies and all the way through her career. What a bright light in our lives, especially during the tough times. Apropos of nothing but an attempt to distract your sorrow, if you get an urge to read, I would anything by PJ Fitzsimmons, I think you might enjoy his style of writing. I wish you the comfort of happy memories of your Mom.

  • Your mom left you a such a wonderful legacy in Linda Ronstadt’s music. My condolences to you. I hope your memories will soothe you.

  • Loved listening to Linda Ronstadt at 6:36 in the morning ~ what a great way to start my day!!!

  • And the title track Hasten Down the Wind was penned by the late very great Warren Zevon, his body of work is worth a deep deep dive. Beyond Werewolves of London lies massively wonderful songs…What a genius.

    Sorry you lost your mom DJ, music helps us through the worst of times. Thanks for sharing your Linda love with us.

  • Condolences … your mom sounds like somebody I could have been friends with. Your love for her shines through. I will put some Linda Ronstadt onto my playlist this week and think of both of you.

  • So very sorry for your loss; may your memories (and the music!) be a comfort.

  • Oh DG, so sorry for your loss. I love Linda Ronstadt too, and I crank up the volume and sing along whenever I hear her on my car radio. Her songs always make me feel better. Hugs!

  • Oh DG. So sorry and hope you have many memories as well as Linda Ronstadt to comfort you.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. My mother was grandly eccentric and remained so till the end of her life and remembering all of those stories has been an important way to keep her alive in our memories. You are so fortunate to have Linda Ronstadt to keep her with you in spirit; ;its a wonderful way to remember your mother, and now when i hear her songs, I will probably remember your mother too

  • So sorry for your loss. Linda was the sound track of my youth. When she started dating Jerry Brown – Oh May -now that was something!

  • My condolences on the loss of your mother. My mother is in hospice so her death is imminent. Your story of your mother’s singing made me think of my mom. She actually could sing, but enjoyed changing the lyrics. When singing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” she would change the lyric “They asked me how I knew, my true love was true” to “They asked me how I knew, and I told them it was none of their business.”

  • Condolences on the loss of your mother. Your Linda Ronstadt memories were very moving. There was a 2019 New Yorker interview with Ms Ronstadt – I heard there was a documentary too. And a cookbook last year.
    My mother died in late May. As we sorted and cleared out decades of stuff in her house, there were a lot of memories.
    We need to hang on to the good memories.

  • DG, sending you condolences on your loss of your mother. You have wonderful memories, cherish them. They are a special gift. ❤️

    • My mother died a few weeks ago too. I send condolences for your loss. My mother liked to sing too.

      • Sending love to you. My mother is 93. I’m trying to cherish every day. Been listening to Linda since high school. What a voice. And thank you for your always-wonderful posts.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. May listening to these songs always bring a smile to your face.

  • Dear DG — I am so very sorry for your loss. Glad you were able to spend time with your Mom and share her love of Linda Ronstadt. Sending you an e-hug ( ).
    My fav — Linda w/Aaron Neville.

  • Your story brought tears to my eyes, a smile to my lips and a lift to my heart. I, too, love to sing and have what is, apparently, a worse voice than your mom’s. (I was asked to “just move my lips” by the children’s choir director.) So good for your mom to just blast it out at the end! What a precious memory for you.

  • I think I nearly wore the grooves off my “What’s New” album. It was and is perfection. My sweet mother also loved Linda, with her favorite being Blue Bayou. It came on my work colleague’s music last week and the memories stopped me in my tracks. My mother’s last knitting project is still unfinished. I just can’t. Condolences and virtual hugs for the loss of your mother.

  • Like you, DG, I’ve always loved Linda. And you’re right that no one sings like Linda. I’m glad Linda is helping you through this rough time Thanks for sharing your mom with us. She’d be proud of you.

  • Will listen to some Linda today. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • DG, I’m so sorry about your loss. Been there, done that. It’s really awful at the time, but now years later I remember her so fondly and miss her always. When I stub my toe on some life calamity, I yearn to call her and tell her and to hear her voice of comfort. She always knew what to say to get me moving again.

  • Thank you for sharing a piece of your last times with your mom DG. Your piece rekindled the ear worm that’s been playing in my head for the last few weeks after seeing episode 4 of The Last of Us, centering around the theme of loving and missing a beloved “for a long, long time”. And I’m sure you will. Linda sings it like no other but would invite you and your mom to join her no doubt! Condolences and good memories for you.

  • DG – I am so very sorry for your loss of your mother. I must say I have been a Linda Ronstadt fan since the early 70’s. My college roommates and I would occasionally belt out one of her songs always I’m sure off-key. Thanks for sharing a special memory.

  • Oh Linda! What a fabulous voice that narrates my youth. Your mom and I would have been friends had we known each other.

  • So sorry about you’re Mom. She had great taste in music. Linda Ronstadt is absolutely my favorite vocal artist of all time! Had many of her albums through high school and beyond.

  • Dear DG, I’m so sorry to read about your mom’s passing, she sounds like she was such a pip! Linda Ronstadt was always one of my favorites too, I’m sorry I never saw her in concert. But diagonal mowing, my partner and I got a kick out of this idea.

  • Sorry to hear about your mother. May Linda Rondstat continue to comfort you.

  • I am so sorry. I will listen, and ,sorry ,sing with Linda today in memory of your Mom. I hope she brings you comfort.❤️

  • DG, I’m SO SORRY for your loss. There is nothing like losing our mothers, no matter our age or theirs. Thank you so much for your recommendation and for all you do.

  • Thank you this made my Sunday

  • May your memories continue to be wonderful.

  • A magnificent work of writing (as always DG) and a sweet ode to your mom. I’m so sorry you’ve lost her but glad to know her a bit through this piece. May Linda continue to be a balm as you mourn the loss.

  • You will always have your mom in your heart.

  • My sincere condolences on the loss of your Mom. It’s so very hard to lose the person you’ve known the longest and loved. Yes to Linda Ronstadt!

  • Condolences on the loss of your morher. I’m glad you where there for her and that Linda Ronstadt was there for you.

  • Your heart is filled with memories of your mom and they will bring you peace in the days to come. Thoughts are with you.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Losing your mother is hard. Linda is also one of my all time favorites. I hope her songs bring you comfort.

  • What a lovely tribute to your mom
    I’m so sorry for your loss

  • DG,
    I am sorry for your loss. Music helps so much in getting things done, and I hope Ronstadt’s music provides comfort in your time of grieving.

  • Oh, DG, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Linda Ronstadt! That sure opened a door in my memory library. I pulled up a playlist and am amazed that I know every single word of every song–when some days I cannot find my size 8 double-points! What a wonderful memory of your mom to carry forward; thank you for sharing it.

  • So sorry for the loss of your Mom, DG. Hugs.

  • Blue Bijou is all I remember of her music.
    And maybe something from a cartoon where her character was singing at the moon while her love interest was somewhere else looking and singing the same song at the moon?

    Losing a mother is grief like none other I’ve experienced. So I’m very sorry for your pain.

  • My sincere sympathies.
    Is it weird reading sympathy greetings from complete strangers? You’ve shared parts of yourself through your writing and I guess we feel like we know you – a little bit. Wishing you well.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. My mom has been gone for 15 years, and you never stop missing them. I can’t hear Linda Ronstadt’s name without remembering driving up to NY state to go apple picking with my best friend and her little sister, belting out “That’ll Be the Day.” That little sister is now my sister-in-law.

  • So sorry for your loss, DG. May the music continue to be a comfort to you.

  • Holding you in my heart. We’ve lost both my Mom and Mom in law, and the process of grief isn’t a predictable one. Just go slow, and let that music help.

  • Wow, thank you for this post. Sending you virtual hugs.

  • Lots of hugs! It doesn’t matter how old you are, losing your mom hurts so much. It hurts even when you didn’t have a good relationship because now there is no hope of ever having one and if you had a good relationship nothing else can be that relationship.

  • Love Linda Rondstadt. Blue Daube or as you say, anything. Saw a special on TV with her singing mostly in Spanish. wonderful

  • May she rest in peace in a Blue Bayou heaven.

  • Hugs. Isn’t the soothing power of music memories wondrous?!

  • Crying and laughing at the same time, that most elusive and satisfying combination. Thank you for sharing. Heartfelt condolences.

  • I bought that album in grad school; when William B Williams and Jonathan Schwartz of WNEW (AM, 1130!) began playing it … (you need to be a NY Metro person of a certain age)…. Willie B described it as “the first new album he’d played in a while. There is an entire generation of men who love Linda Ronstadt (many of whom waited in line to see her in Pirates/Central Park).

    Long Live the American Songbook! Also, perfect for a weekend in which we lost Tony Bennett. The mind and music is an amazing thing.

    and as we say “May her memory be a blessing.”

  • I love to sing along with Linda Ronstadt! She has a wonderful voice! Do you remember when she was on the Simpsons? Plow King became one of my favorite episodes!

    I am sorry you lost your mom – I really enjoy all of your posts, and I even asked about you when I came to the Nashville HQ, but you were not there. Thanks for being you and sharing your sense of humor. I wish I could help.

  • Sorry for your loss. Just put What’s New on the turntable and picked up my knitting. Delightful.

  • Listening to, and singing poorly *and loudly* to Linda now, and thinking of you and Meg, too.

  • My deepest condolences on the loss of your mother.

    My brother died recently in home hospice. Music helped. The hospice caregivers would often sing to him as they worked. It is such a comforting and healing energy.

    Linda Ronstadt live in Nashville in the early 80’s is definitely in the top tier of my personal “best concert” list. Thank you for reviving that memory. I can probably re-live the experience via YouTube. The T-shirt might be around here somewhere….

  • I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother. It was heartwarming to read of your attempts to make a connection with her during her final months. How lovely that Linda Ronstadt was the topic you could both resonate with. I am older than you so my fondness for Linda began when she was with the Stone Poneys. Different Drum was a big favorite. Thank you for reminding me what a varied singer she is.

  • My condolences to you and your sister, Meg, DG. I hope the Linda Ronstadt musical memories continue to bring you smiles and comfort. When my mom was in hospice, she enjoyed hearing the early Elvis songs.
    Linda’s Greatest Hits album (Vol. 1) was always on our play list in high school and college; “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” was one of the most popular two-step songs of the era at our Texas dance halls, right up there with “Amarillo by Morning” and “Silver Wings.” How fortunate for all of us that she continued to make great music!

  • DG, I am very sorry for your and your sister’s loss. Thank you for this meaningful sharing, especially the part about knitting a few rows on your mom’s dish towel. May the good memories always be a blessing. Sending you a gentle hug.

  • Thanks for sharing this story about your mom with us DG. I’m glad you were able to share those final days with her.

  • I was going to school in Boulder, Colorado and saw her perform at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
    I was only 21 and my brother who was 15 years old had taken his life a few months before. When she sang “ Heart Like A Wheel “ with her dress blending into the red of the rocks that surrounded her I will never forget what I was feeling but I won’t forget

  • May you find peace and ease and eventually happy, laugh out loud memories of your mother. Grief eases and the world turns; thank you for sharing your journey.

  • I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother. Your tribute had me humming Linda Ronstadt songs as I was reading. I also owned all the albums, including her work in the trio with Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris. So good.

  • Sorry for your loss DG & glad the music was there for your Mom & continues for you.

  • ❤️ this story, my mom loved listening during her final months, also, mostly dear Old Blue Eyes, but also Linda. Sending healing thoughts your way.

  • I am sorry for your loss; thank you for the beautiful tribute to your mom, and to the incomparable Linda Ronstadt (a knitter of course – all the cool kids knit).

  • Sweetness and sorrow- it’s why we have music. And knitting. And each other.

  • DG, I am very sorry that you lost your mother. It is not easy, no matter white, but you are spot on about Linda Ronstadt I grew up with her too, and she always hit home no matter what she did. She’s right up there with Ella Fitzgerald. Her music and her voice reach right in there and you feel everything that she’s feeling. She is your perfect grieving friend . strangely, Siri decided to play Linda Ronstadt for me while I was knitting yesterday even though I asked her to play the radio station. I enjoyed it, of course. My sincere condolences.

  • Linda Ronstadt used to be a knitter before her Parkinson’s diagnosis .

  • I’m so sorry about your mother — it sounds like you had a good life together. Thank you for sharing these memories with such heart and humor.

  • So sorry to hear about your mom DG. Sending love your way.

  • What a wonderful tribute to your mother!
    I’m the same age as Linda Ronstadt, and her music is one of the candidates for the sound track of my life. Some years back I went to the film documenting her life. My friend brought her adolescent daughter who fell asleep ruing the movie. FELL. ASLEEP. Travesty. I’m getting out my Trio discs – three women to sing along with.

  • Your mom was so lucky to have the tender, attentive care you gave to her in her final weeks, as you looked for the best ways for her to be able continue to connect with you. She must have been a remarkable mom to have such a kind and creative son.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • So sorry about your loss, DG!

  • I sat with my mother through the final weeks of her life, talking and fretting. I only wish I had had your sense of humor. Walking a parent over to the other side, as hard as it is, is a kind of blessing. Hugs to you, DG. I’ve only ever been a marginal Ronstadt fan (although I too, will belt out a tune with her regardless of how awful it sounds) but I’ll give knitting to Linda a go.

  • Thank you for this DG. I got LR’s album, Back in The USA for Christmas when I was an overweight, lonely, 16 year old. I remember looking at the cover and thinking how gorgeous she was and how I wished I looked like her and sing like her. Finding out later that she had been an overweight, pimply adolescent with a bad blonde hair job and awful haircut gave me hope for myself. Throughout my life many of the songs in that album have remained touchstones and friends especially her versions of Allison by Elvis Costello and Mohammed’s Radio by Warren Zevon. So sing loud and proud as you’re working through the grief and the closets and dressers, letters and photos.

  • Thank you for caring for her.

  • Sending you my sympathy, DG. Moms are often our foundation, and losing your mom so hard. Save all the good memories in your heart. And, thanks for the Linda Ronstadt memories. My high school years were full of her music.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing

  • Love love love this, DG <3 And wholeheartedly agree!

  • Thank you for that lovely tribute to your mother, and the joy that is Linda Ronstadt’s voice. So evocative to many of us, of our moms and our youth, the gorgeous music that has kept us company all these years.
    And yes, the out loud laugh, thinking of your mother singing in her own inimitable way. May her memory be a blessing.

  • I am so sorry for your loss but my heart is glad that you continued to communicate through to the end and even enjoy your shared love for LR records. Plus you even made me laugh out loud. So you have kept your sense of humor in this time of loss and transition. I’ll put Linda on right now… hugs!!

  • So very sorry for your loss! Can’t think of a better way for you to honor your Mom than through this post!

    Love, love, love Linda Ronstadt and love knitting to her even more. You no doubt, provided extra peace and love for your Mom as she passed!!

  • She is irreplaceable, as is your Mom. I’m so sorry you’ve lost both voices …

  • Holding you and your family in the light. Linda is magical and curative. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • When I met my husband, there was an almost life-size poster of Linda on his dorm wall. I wasn’t a fan yet because my experience with her involved “Poor poor pitiful me” playing at full blast when my neighbors came back from the bars on Saturday night. Sorry to hear about your mom.

  • Seriously Linda could sing anything and make it just for you…I lost my Mom 10 years ago…I talk to her every day…may you find peace…

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. My favorite Linda album is the Lullabys.

  • I remember my Mom singing this song when I was a kid and I’m 67 now.

  • So sorry to you and your sister for your loss DG. Sending love to you both xx

  • Yup. I get it.
    Asking my mom to say “Hey” to your mom and show her around … why not, they’re both new to the team up there.
    That mother love is a fierce one.
    Peace to your lovely broken heart.

  • So very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your frequent contributions to the newsletters. I always enjoy them.

  • Such beautiful writing…and I am so, so sorry for your loss and that you now walk the path so many of us know so well.

  • So very sorry for your loss! And what a lovely memory of your mother.

  • Sorry to hear about your loss. My husband died about 3 years ago and we loved Linda Ronstadt too. My favorite is “It’s so Easy to Fall in Love”. Her songs combine heartfelt messages with great music and a fabulous, distinctive voice.
    Music is such a mixed thing for me after a loss. Sometimes it feels healing but other times it stirs emotions that are almost too intense to handle.
    Take time in your healing.

  • Dear DG, please know that our hearts are with you as you mourn your mom’s passing. You paint a picture of a life well-lived, and certainly she lives on in your loving memories of her. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  • Lovely. Sending peace. ❤️

  • DG Strong, I am so very sorry for your loss. Linda Ronstadt was ‘my girl’ through HS, college and beyond-such an amazing voice!

    May her music heal and nourish you in these rocky barren days ahead. Grief is one tough nut but if anything can crack through it, Linda Ronstadt’s music will

    • Although I have never met you, I know Meg, and I am sending you both a virtual hug and my sympathies for the loss of your mother. Your story is a beautiful tribute to her memory.
      Keep her in your hearts.

    • And my deepest sympathies to your sister as you navigate this heartbreaking loss together

  • So sorry for your loss. Your eloquent words are a lovely tribute to her.

  • Please accept the loving condolences of a stranger. Losing your mom is hard. <3

  • I wish I could give you & Meg a hug. What a loss but also, what a gift she gave you

  • So very sorry for your loss, DJ. My college bestie and daughter of Seldom Scene banjo player used to tell stories about “Linder” singing in her childhood living room. Your mom had great taste!

  • Sending love

  • A lovely story from a sad time. Hoping the good memories help with healing.

  • Your writing captures so many details of your mother’s life and passing, with sweet sorrow. I’m grateful for your musings.

  • Such a beautiful tribute. Sending love and light.

  • Though the voice is silent the spirit echoes still. I pray that your memories of your mom keep her with you always.

  • Oh goodness, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this story with us about sharing LR with your mom. ❤️

  • If you’d like to learn more about Linda’s life and career, pick up your knitting and watch the 2019 documentary, “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.” According to Wikipedia, the “Variety” critic wrote that “Ronstadt’s voice yearns and crests with a freedom that never forgets its pain. She breaks your heart and heals it at the same time.” Sound like a good way to ease your grief.

  • In honor of you and your mom, I’ll be listening to her Nelson Riddle album, my absolute favorite.

  • I’m really sorry about your Mom. She sounded like a fun person. That’s a lovely story. <3

  • Condolences and my sincere sympathies. May her memory be a blessing.

  • Your Mom had taste. Not sure regarding Patty Duke or pancakes but no doubt about Linda R; that woman was pure vocal magic.
    I’m sorry for your loss.

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