Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parkinsons Quiets Linda Ronstadt's Voice, Not Her Spirit

Linda Ronstadt has been making the talk show rounds talking about her new "musical memoir" Simple Dreams and revealing that she can no longer sing due to Parkinson's disease.

To Diane Sawyer's insipid question about her illness, "Do you ever get angry?" Ronstadt, who has always had a social conscious and dated the once-and-future Governor Jerry Brown, answered, "Yes, especially when I think about our immigration policy."

Uncomfortable with her Queen of Rock status, Ronstadt sang country harmonies with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, appeared in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, and recorded an album of jazz standards and another of Mexican music she learned as a child. Her biography is mostly about the music, but some cultural references slip in.

On drugs, she says alcohol made her ill, and cocaine caused a bloody nose and was said to interfere with hearing: she eschews both. She admits to trying marijuana "several times" and not objecting to others using it, but adds in the words of a friend, "When I smoke pot, it makes me want to hide under the bed with a box of graham crackers and not share."

Ronstadt seems to have sanitized of her own drug history, according to New York Daily News and compared against her 1975 interview with Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone. After all, she did record Lowell George's "Willin'"

On dating Brown, she says, "Jerry Brown and I had a lot of fun for a number of years. He was smart and funny, not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline...Also, he considered professionally many issues that I considered passionately: issues like the safety of nuclear power plants, agricultural soil erosion, water politics, and farm workers' rights."

Perhaps it's time to add medical marijuana rights to her list, because studies have shown that cannabinoids can aid Parkinson's. Massachusetts' new medical marijuana law, for one, specifically allows the use of cannabis for Parkinson's.

After a long, hectic and fruitful career, it might be time for Linda to stay home and heal with some graham crackers and cannabis.

UPDATE 7/14 - Ronstadt has been awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Obama, who admitted he had a crush on her back in the day. She entered in a wheelchair but rose to accept her award.

UPDATE 12/16 - A star-studded tribute and benefit was held in LA.

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