This was the first year in 8 years where I didn’t run long on Christmas morning (well, no counting the time I rowed a half marathon instead that is – click HERE). I have been having a bit of a shin issue after last weeks long run over icy roads so I’m playing it safe this year and doing absolutely buckus. I went to my cousins for breakfast, drank copious amounts of Starbucks coffee, played a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity and now, I’m home preparing for our steak dinner when Kelly gets home.
I’m a bit sick of Christmas songs at this point, so while I’m prepping dinner I’m listening to a little gem I picked up yesterday while doing some last minute shopping for stocking stuffers, the ‘Silk Purse‘ album by Linda Ronstadt.
By the looks of things, this record has made the rounds once belonging to the University of Guelph ‘Radio Gryphon‘ judging by the sticker on the front.
I figured for $5.00 it needed a good home for the holidays.
Abandoning California for Nashville, Linda Ronstadt does take a stab at relatively straight-ahead country on her second album, released in 1970.
For this album she changed location and producers – Elliot Mazer, who’d later be Neil Young‘s right-hand man for archival projects – but she didn’t quite thrown herself into the maelstrom of Music City either. Many of the soft, flowery flourishes of her debut album ‘Hand Sown…Home Grown‘ have been traded in for steel guitars and echoing acoustics, a move that definitely reads country, but Ronstadt’s sensibility remains rooted on the West Coast, favoring great emerging songwriters and revived, reworked versions of classics.
Only a couple of these are classic country, however – just Hank Williams’ ‘Lovesick Blues‘ and Mel Tillis’ ‘Mental Revenge‘, which are balanced by Goffin/King’s ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow‘ and ‘I’m Leaving It All Up to You‘, R&B hits given nice country rearrangements (the latter in particular feels suited to its new barroom rendition). These rearrangements, alongside covers of Gene Clark & Bernie Leadon’s ‘He Dark the Sun‘ and Paul Siebel’s ‘Louise‘, suggest that Ronstadt’s sensibility is a bit more cosmopolitan than country, but that’s the great thing about this album: perhaps she didn’t find her voice, not in the way she would a year later on her eponymous record, but this Nashville excursion had a clarifying effect, whittling down the musical excesses and strengthening her aesthetic while winding up a nifty little record in its own right.
And the fact that the album features a very leggy Linda sitting with three enormous pigs on the cover isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. So while it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an amazingly awesome thing to listen to today.