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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young

Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young's careers briefly -- but beautifully brilliantly -- intersected back in the 1970s and continued until the late 1980's.

Early in her career, Linda Ronstadt sang backup vocals with James Taylor on Neil Young's #1 song "Heart of Gold" from the multi-platinum album "Harvest". Later, Ronstadt opened for Neil Young's 1973 "Time Fades Away" tour.

Linda Ronstadt covered Neil Young's "Birds" (from album After the Goldrush) on her 1972 self titled album. (See video above) Also, Ronstadt, with Nicolette Larson, sang on Neil Young's 1977 album, American Stars 'n Bars, with Linda Ronstadt on the tracks "Old Country Waltz", "Saddle Up the Palomino", "Bite the Bullet", "Hold Back the Tears", and "Hey Babe".

Linda Ronstadt also sang backup vocals on Neil Young's "Hanging on a Limb" and "The Ways of Love" on Freedom. (Thanks Jeff G.!)

In Neil Young's auto-biography "Waging Heavy Peace", he discusses Linda Ronstadt. In an interview with Linda Ronstadt on Hudson Union | YouTube she is asked about working with Neil Young. In this clip, Linda Ronstadt discusses how Neil Young's epilepsy condition impacted him. Her comments are even more heartfelt given Linda's own situation.

(More interviews with Linda Ronstadt on Hudson Union | YouTube.)

From an interview with on Ronstadt opening for Neil Young's 1973 "Time Fades Away" tour:
Linda Ronstadt: “Neil and I first met at the Troubadour, I think.

But we did the Johnny Cash Show together and he was recording, so he asked me to come along and sing harmonies. James Taylor was doing the same show and James came along and we recorded on 'Heart of Gold' and 'Old Man' for the Harvest album. It was a great record and friends of mine were playing on it. Kenneth was playing drums, so we were there all night long. We came out the next morning and it was snowing. I remember singing all night long and never getting bored.

I love Neil’s music.

As a club act, we weren't really ready for Madison Square Garden, but we did our best.

Larger venues ended up becoming a persistent issue. They did a pretty good job of trying to make it all work. But in those hard, huge cavernous spaces, it’s hard to do really, really quiet, subtle music. You need a small theater for that.

You know, when you’re finished with your show, you just want to get out of there and go home and do something else. It was good exposure for me. It really helped the record. In time, everyone developed a deep sense of camaraderie, as well.

I stayed every night for his [Neil Young] show, which was almost two hours long. He had great players. He had Kenneth Buttrey for part of that tour playing drums, [and] Tim Drummond.

It was really a great band.”
In Neil Young's auto-biography "Waging Heavy Peace", he writes that Linda Ronstadt once warned her protege Nicolette Larson not to get involved with him because "He doesn’t live in the real world". (Incidentally, Larson ignored Ronstadt’s advice and had her biggest career hit with the song Neil wrote for her “Lotta Love”.)

Linda Ronstadt : Love is a Rose (In Concert - Atlanta 1977)

From Linda Ronstadt on her best albums: “I’ve got a huge jukebox in my brain” by Tom Pinnock:
Linda Ronstadt: There were a lot of great writers around then [early 1970's].

California is like a big lens, people would come from other places and California would focus them. A guy like Bernie would come from Florida, or Glenn would come from Michigan, or Don from Texas, and by the time they got to California the Californian sensibility would put its own little spin on things. Then it would be broadcast to the world.

Neil Young is another one – I still think he’s one of the best guys that ever came out of rock’n’roll, he’s just brilliant.

Linda Ronstadt & Nicolette Larsen w/ Neil Young
American Stars & Bars sessions

Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young [purportedly & unconfirmed] Riding Horses

Also, see Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young (Updated - January 05, 2020).

More on Neil Young's Musical Influences.



At 3/02/2019 12:48:00 PM, Blogger rolandthompsongunner said...

Wonderful article. I also very much enjoy her cover of Love is a Rose. I listen to it often.

I was very happy to see her get inducted into the rock hall a few years back (by the late Glenn Frey). If you watch History of the Eagles you really see what a great soul she is. Few people would've given their outright blessing for their backing back to go do their own gig as she did.

I think of her a lot like Joe Cocker (who should be in the rock hall) in that their voices and arrangements really transcend the songs they cover.

At 3/02/2019 12:56:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks RTG.

Glad you enjoyed. Linda's cover of "Love is a Rose" is a real gem like Birds above just not as well known. Linda was definitely an angel back in the days when they seemed few and far between. Like Nicolette, another Neil collaboration story for another day.

At 3/03/2019 12:57:00 AM, Blogger NeverTrump said...

Linda should be considered one of the great singers of the 70s. She was an important artist

At 3/03/2019 07:29:00 AM, Blogger Roop said...

Always loved Linda's voice. Never got to see her, here in the UK.
God bless her.

At 3/03/2019 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Grampa Ron said... originally stated that Ronstadt toured with Neil in 1974. Glad you corrected it as 1973. I know it was '73 because I saw Linda open for Neil on April 1, 1973 in Sacramento. Same show where David Crosby and Graham Nash came on stage and did a couple of numbers with Neil near the end of the show.

At 3/03/2019 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Tamara in Montana said...

100% agree with nevertrump!

At 3/03/2019 05:07:00 PM, Blogger mark said...

>> I know it was '73 because I saw Linda open for Neil on April 1, 1973 in Sacramento. Same show where David Crosby and Graham Nash came on stage and did a couple of numbers with Neil

yasss, the Time Fades Away show
.... saw it Denver in late March
..... Linda as the opener was a great surprise !!

..... as was her appearance at the Bridge School show in '05 when she was a surprise guest of EmmyLou
.... what .. a .. voice !

At 3/03/2019 07:52:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes i was a neil young fan i woukd like to see n.young perform here in the Philippines!, and im sure n.young fans here are gladly waiting for him to rock n roll!, thanks!....

At 3/05/2019 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Regarding the bottom photo in the post, I can unequivocally confirm that Linda is indeed riding a horse. (At first glance I thought you were suggesting Neil's identity was in question, but that's obviously not so since they're wearing the same clothes as in the famous photo of their AS&B session with Nicolette that appeared in "Waging Heavy Peace":

At 3/05/2019 08:06:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Linda is a favourite of mine ever since I heard her and saw her perform.What a great voice,what a "southern belle".What a dear friend to Neil.Sorry she's in such a sad condition.I wished she could heal.She had such a warm,soothing voice and now she's not able to sing ever again.Lucky us,we still can listen to her records.The "Time fades away"-shows are a series of concerts Neil's not too happy with.I thought in those days:"Wow,what a great live-album this is(Time fades away).One we've never expected to hear.I played "Love is a rose" time after time,over and over again in 1977 to whoever wanted to hear it (or not).The song still give me strong emotions,good and bad,happy and sad.That's what good music does to me.I'll always remember,never forget,Linda and Neil included.Cees Mostert,Netherlands.

At 3/05/2019 05:55:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Babbo B. - lol. Thanks. updated. that does seem to confirm with the AS&B session photo.

@ Cees - "Love is a rose" is another song standing the test of time.

ps - any Europe shows for you this Spring??

At 3/06/2019 06:38:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Way too expensive,It's a pity.Would love to see and hear Neil live again.Lucky me:I subscribed NYA,a subscription I got from my fiancee.Plenty of "inarestin" stuff.Cees.

At 3/07/2019 10:49:00 AM, Blogger ForeverYounger said...

Linda, Nicolette & NY on harmonica performing a song written by Bruce. WOW.

At 3/08/2019 10:14:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Cees - well, enjoy that NYA subscription! Maybe some live streams this summer?!

@ ForeverYounger - yeah, the coverr of Across The Border is gorgeous. We came across while researching this article. While definitely worthy, we thought we had enough vids already.

But maybe we were wrong and need to update to include ...

At 6/17/2020 06:01:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I Saw Linda Ronstadt open for Neil Young at the Spectrum in Philly in 1973. My memory is not what it used to be but I believe she was booed off the stage.


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