Linda Ronstadt is one of the most iconic and influential singers in American music history. With a career spanning over four decades, Ronstadt’s unique voice and powerful performances made her a household name and a chart-topping artist. She has recorded and performed in a variety of genres, including rock, country, folk, and pop, earning her multiple Grammy Awards and nominations. Ronstadt’s incredible range and versatility as a vocalist allowed her to collaborate with some of the biggest names in music, including Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and James Taylor, among others.
This list of the top 10 best Linda Ronstadt songs of all time celebrates her incredible career and the impact she has had on the music industry. From her breakout hits in the 1970s to her later successes in the 1980s, Ronstadt’s music has touched the hearts and souls of millions of fans around the world.
Her unique blend of genres and ability to convey emotion through song has made her a true icon, influencing generations of singers to come. This list includes some of her most iconic and beloved songs, showcasing her incredible talent and contribution to the world of music.
“Willin'” is a song written by Lowell George of the band Little Feat and popularized by Linda Ronstadt in her 1974 album “Heart Like a Wheel”. The song is a classic example of country rock and features a twangy guitar riff that runs throughout the song. Ronstadt’s cover of the song was praised for her interpretation and soulful delivery, as she sang about the life of a truck driver and his willingness to travel long distances in order to make a living. The song’s lyrics are simple yet poetic, describing the life on the road and the longing for home. The chorus is a nod to the song’s title, with Ronstadt belting out the line “I’m a willing”, expressing her own willingness to keep moving forward despite the hardships of life on the road. “Willin'” has since become a staple of classic rock radio and is considered one of Ronstadt’s signature songs. The song’s poignant lyrics and Ronstadt’s powerful vocals make it a standout track in her career and a timeless classic in the world of country rock.
2. “Don’t Know Much”
“Don’t Know Much” is a beautiful love song that Linda Ronstadt recorded as a duet with Aaron Neville in 1989. The song is a perfect showcase for Ronstadt’s soaring vocals and Neville’s smooth and soulful voice. The lyrics tell the story of two people who may not know everything about each other, but they know they love each other deeply. The gentle melody and the emotional delivery of the lyrics make this song a timeless classic. It reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The song has been covered by several artists and is still widely played on radio stations today. Ronstadt and Neville’s duet on “Don’t Know Much” is considered one of the greatest love songs of all time, and it remains a fan favorite of both artists.
3. “My Funny Valentine”
“My Funny Valentine” is a classic love song from the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical “Babes in Arms.” Linda Ronstadt’s version of the song was released on her 1983 album “What’s New,” which is a collection of jazz standards. Ronstadt’s interpretation of the song showcases her powerful vocals and emotional depth, as she delivers the lyrics with sincerity and tenderness. The slow tempo and soft instrumental accompaniment provide a romantic and intimate atmosphere that perfectly complements the song’s romantic message. Ronstadt’s rendition of “My Funny Valentine” received critical acclaim and is considered one of her best performances. The song has since become a beloved standard in the jazz and pop music genres, with countless artists covering it over the years. Ronstadt’s version remains a standout, however, thanks to her distinctive voice and impeccable phrasing.
4. “Blue Bayou”
“Blue Bayou” is a song that was originally recorded by Roy Orbison, but Linda Ronstadt’s version became more popular and is widely recognized as a classic. The song has a dreamy quality with its slow tempo and gentle instrumentation, which perfectly complements Ronstadt’s powerful yet emotive vocals. The lyrics describe a desire to escape to a peaceful place where troubles are left behind, and Ronstadt’s delivery captures this sentiment beautifully. The song’s chorus is particularly memorable, with Ronstadt’s soaring vocals and the addition of a backing choir creating a stirring and uplifting moment. “Blue Bayou” remains one of Ronstadt’s most beloved and enduring hits, and its timeless quality continues to captivate listeners today.
5. “Tumbling Dice”
“Tumbling Dice” is a cover of the classic Rolling Stones song by Linda Ronstadt, released on her 1978 album “Living in the USA.” Ronstadt puts her own spin on the song, adding her signature vocals and a touch of country rock influence to the bluesy original. The song features a driving beat, a catchy guitar riff, and Ronstadt’s powerhouse vocals, showcasing her ability to tackle rock music with just as much skill as her traditional folk and country roots. Her cover of “Tumbling Dice” was a hit on both rock and country radio stations and helped solidify her status as a versatile and respected artist. The song has since become a staple of Ronstadt’s live performances and is still a fan favorite to this day.
6. “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”
“Silver Threads And Golden Needles” is a classic country song that was covered by Linda Ronstadt on her 1973 album “Don’t Cry Now.” The song was originally written by Jack Rhodes and Dick Reynolds and was recorded by a number of artists prior to Ronstadt’s version. Ronstadt’s rendition, however, became a hit and helped solidify her place as a leading female vocalist in the 1970s. The song features Ronstadt’s trademark powerful vocals and showcases her ability to infuse her own unique style into traditional country music. The lyrics of the song speak of lost love and heartbreak, and Ronstadt’s emotive performance adds a depth of feeling to the already poignant lyrics. The song’s catchy melody and upbeat tempo also make it a classic example of the country rock genre that Ronstadt helped popularize during her career. Overall, “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” remains a beloved song in Ronstadt’s discography and a testament to her ability to put her own stamp on classic country tunes.
7. “Long Long Time”
“Long Long Time” is a classic song that highlights her powerful and emotional vocals. The song is a ballad that reflects on lost love and the lingering feelings of heartbreak. With its simple yet captivating melody and Ronstadt’s heartfelt delivery, the song takes the listener on a journey through the pain of a broken heart. The lyrics are poignant and relatable, touching on the universal theme of heartbreak and the longing for a lost love. The song’s instrumentation, featuring a gentle piano and acoustic guitar, complements Ronstadt’s voice and adds to the overall emotional impact of the piece. Long Long Time became a top 40 hit in 1970, and has remained a fan favorite over the years. Ronstadt’s ability to capture the essence of a song and convey its message through her soulful voice is showcased perfectly in this timeless classic.”
8. “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”
“Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is a classic Linda Ronstadt song written by Warren Zevon. This upbeat track features catchy guitar riffs and a fun, lively melody. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who always finds herself falling for the wrong men, despite her best efforts to avoid heartbreak. Ronstadt’s strong vocals and passionate delivery make the song an instant classic, with its irresistible chorus that is easy to sing along to. The song’s themes of love, loss, and resilience resonate with audiences of all ages, and it has become a beloved staple in the country and rock genres. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, but Ronstadt’s version remains the most popular and memorable, with its upbeat tempo and catchy lyrics that are sure to get stuck in your head. Overall, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is a quintessential Linda Ronstadt track that showcases her powerful vocals and ability to infuse emotion into every note she sings.
9. “It’s So Easy”
“It’s So Easy” is a song originally recorded by Buddy Holly and covered by Linda Ronstadt for her 1977 album “Simple Dreams”. Ronstadt’s version was a hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The song features a simple, catchy melody and upbeat rhythm, with Ronstadt’s smooth vocals perfectly capturing the carefree spirit of the lyrics. The song is about the joy of falling in love, with lyrics like “It’s so easy to fall in love, it’s so easy to fall in love with you”. The track also features prominent guitar work, particularly during the solo section, adding to the overall upbeat and cheerful feel of the song. “It’s So Easy” has become a staple in Ronstadt’s live performances and remains one of her most popular and recognizable songs.
10. “You’re No Good”
“You’re No Good” is a classic rock song performed by Linda Ronstadt, originally written by Clint Ballard Jr. and recorded by Dee Dee Warwick in 1963. Ronstadt’s cover of the song was released in 1974 as a single from her album, “Heart Like a Wheel,” and became a major hit, reaching the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song features Ronstadt’s powerful vocals and a catchy guitar riff, creating a memorable rock and roll anthem. The lyrics tell the story of a woman warning her ex-lover that he is no good for her and she won’t take him back, showcasing Ronstadt’s signature style of delivering emotional, soulful performances. The song’s success helped establish Ronstadt as one of the leading female vocalists of the 1970s and a pioneer of the country-rock genre. “You’re No Good” has since been covered by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley and Van Halen, and remains a staple of classic rock radio.