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GROWING UP WITH LINDA RONSTADT AND CAT STEVENS

October 25, 2013

In my last blog post I listed the 16 nominees for the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then made my pitch for the induction of Link Wray, the nearly forgotten rock guitar pioneer.

I also provided my initial thoughts on some of the other classic rock acts on the nominee list, predicting that Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens were slam dunk picks for Hall inductions, as far as I was concerned.

I guess I am a little biased when it comes to Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens, who was born Steven Demetre Georgiou and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam. In addition to their enormous popularity during my formative music listening years, Linda and Cat were two performers who bring back vivid flashbacks of a less complicated, more carefree time for this classic rock fan.

I can picture myself going through the stacks of records in Caldor’s (a now-defunct department store) and making it a point to admire the album covers of the beautifully stunning Linda Ronstadt. Yes, I admit doing that in my early teen-age years. But in my defense I point out that in addition to her girl-next-door beauty, Linda was actually a very talented singer in her time, with great vocal range.

Linda could not only sing a variety of musical styles, from folk rock to country rock to just plain old-fashion rock, but could cover them all with such feeling she made the songs her own.

Cat’s hit-making music, meanwhile, which was a bit corny and at the same time irresistible, instantly brings me back to a junior high school classmate’s house for one of those awkward pre-pubescent parties. I’m sure you remember those events, where the gangly and goofy boys grouped together in one corner and the coy and mature girls gathered in another. Everyone was doing their best to act cool, and failing miserably at not appearing overly interested in what’s happening in the other group.

Well, this is the Cat Stevens song  I remember being played during this one particular party.

Unless you’re a fan of that kind of music and plug it into your Pandora internet or Sirius satellite radio, you’re not going to hear Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens  too often these days. I was very sad to learn that Linda’s once powerful singing voice has been silenced by Parkinson’s disease while Cat’s religious beliefs pretty much keep him out of the spotlight.

What we are left with now are their great cover hits. And, of course, our wonderful memories.

For interesting trivia about Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens and other classic artists featured in Rocking Lyrics, click here.

Now it’s your turn. What are your memories of Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens, and thoughts about their rightful place in rock history?

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5 Comments
  1. Melissa Chesnut-Tangerman permalink

    Man, Joe, you nail it with these two artists of our particular time, and what their music evokes. I think I was at that party….nah. I wasn’t cool enough to be at the same one as you.

    • You are way too nice, Melissa. I think I was invited to the party out of default. I was a a friend of a friend of a friend… From what I remember, you were pretty cool yourself.

  2. Gordon Macdougall permalink

    Oh, and while your comment about Cat being out of the limelight was certsinly true in the 80s and 90s, it seems he has found ways to re-emerge into the world (from an almost hermit-like disappearance) and is lately quite active and getting ready to tour.

    • Thanks Gordon for your thoughtful comments. Yes, it does appear that the former Cat Stevens is making his presence felt again.

  3. Gordon Macdougall permalink

    Both are wonderful artists. Beautiful voices, lyrics, melodies…My parents introduced me to both: they had some of their albums. While I was a fan of Cat Stevens for years, it maybe wasn’t until the early eighties, when I saw the film Harold and Maude, that I realized the power of his songs: that matching of lyrics snd story is one of the best in film. Since then, Trouble is probsbly one of my favorite songs, it conveys such depth of emotion….

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