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Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,070 ratings  ·  310 reviews
In this memoir, iconic singer Linda Ronstadt weaves together a captivating story of her origins in Tucson, Arizona, and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

Born into a musical family, Linda’s childhood was filled with everything from Hank Williams to Gilbert and Sullivan, Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her artistic curios
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 1st 2013)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Psst...This book is now available, September 17.
Excellent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air:

I've been in love with Linda Ronstadt's voice since I first heard her belt out “You're No Good” through the earpiece of my transistor radio back in junior high. After reading this memoir, I've fallen in love with Linda as a person. What a gracious, level-headed, gentle, modest lady she is. And if she didn't already have enough talents, we can now add writing
Karen Segboer
It pains me to write this. I have waited for this book since I learned of its inception. I own her albums, I've gone to many a Ronstadt concert. "Simple Dreams" is very light in the details and a slim volume of anything at all new. If you've been a fan of Ronstadt over the years - as I have, most assuredly - you will know pretty much all of what she has to offer here.

Over the years, she had admitted to and discussed her various boyfriends, both long-term and short term in articles and interviews
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of Ronstadt's contemporary pop (country/rock) records. I still consider Heart Like A Wheel, her 1974 breakthrough album, to be one of my favorite albums. Even before HLAW, I was a fan--Different Drum, Long Long Time, her work in country music.

Having said that, this book turns out to be something of a disappointment, and not because she doesn't provide revealing details about her personal life. I was hoping that Ronstadt would give us some real insight i
Rita K
This memoir is all about the music, from her start to her last recordings. While it is nice to know a bit more about her musical influences and why she chose to record what she did, it Is very light on any kind of personal memories or motivations. She definitely does not "kiss and tell" either. I don't mind that, I don't need those details, but I don't feel that I learned much about her. Each time she speaks about a new direction in her music, for example, singing " Pirates of Penzance," she dow ...more
Biblio Files
I've been on a memoir kick lately -- Penny Marshall, Debbie Reynolds, Garry Marshall, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Marlo Thomas. A little gossip, a little show business history, some behind the scenes insight, they're fun and they usually don't leave much of an impression. I don't know how much of Linda Ronstadt's memoir I'll remember, but it is the best one I've read so far.

Ronstadt's writing style is simple and direct. It's a pleasure to read. She seems to have written the book without a co-wri
Ronstadt addends her title with the phrase, "A Musical Memoir," and to this she holds fast. Simple Dreams is a highly-compartmentalized recounting of the history of her voice. Confined to musical influences, musical experiences and musical exploration, what we have here is not an individual's journey through life but the chronological narrative of a talent. And while it is Linda's prerogative to restrict her recollections to the professional, I find that the story suffers in the absence of her h ...more
As a teenager I loved Linda Ronstadt's music, and that love continued into my adulthood. Unlike many (if not most) of contemporary singers, Linda Ronstadt is also a consummate musician. She grew up in an extremely musical and well-educated family and relied upon that upbringing and musical knowledge to achieve more than most singers could ever hope of achieving in one lifetime. She has excelled at singing/recording everything from country, rock, opera and Mexican music to beautiful old standards ...more
Linda Ronstadt is a talented singer and songwriter. I have enjoyed her music and following her career . This book however is a disappointment. It is merely a chronology of her life. She has been at the center of musical history, and adds no insight or color while relating her journey. She influenced many and is gifted in understanding the musical influences of her compatriots . Her breath of talent is remarkable.
However, she shares little of herself or her personal life with us. She devotes a s
Joyce Gray
I was so disappointed in this book. I love Linda Ronstadt and her voice, she is so talented. I knew this was not going to be a "tell all" book, that it was going to be about the music. I did expect however to get some insight as to how she moved through her career, some of her experiences, something about what she felt as she went through each step of her career. How becoming a mother effected it, how getting ill effected it. What we get instead is just a list, a list of each album and who playe ...more
Jody Zimmerman
Linda Ronstadt’s musical memoir, Simple Dreams, is written purely from her heart. It is not an exposé of lovers and celebrities; it is about how Ronstadt followed her love of music and her unique interpretation of it throughout her life.

Her straightforward, well written prose, reveals the caring, compassionate, intelligent, talented, and strong woman that she is. The tenacity and perseverance she maintained through over four decades in the music business comes shining through. She is frank abou
This book is ALL about the music. I found nothing really fascinating and the book is emotionally flat. If you are a fan of Ronstadt you know the story of the Southern California music scene in the 60’s and 70’s (Eagles, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther), to Heart Like A Wheel, The Pirates of Penzance, Trio, Cry Like A Rainstorm and her recordings of traditional Mexican music and pop standards. The rest is all about the musicians, singers, songwriters, and managers she met and dealt with along the wa ...more
Mary Miller
I gave up. Rarely do I give up on a book, unless it just makes little sense to continue. Right now in the musical world there seems to be much interest in writing memoirs about about the 1960's, as there is want to (there was a flood of emotional content to the time period, good songs, and fantastic musicians writing and singing them). This memoir, as several people have pointed out, is basically a laundry list of who Linda has sang with, whether they were nice or not, with a very one dimensiona ...more

She has a unique legacy of music spanning rock, Broadway, traditional American, opera, children’s and Mexican songs. The book is about that music - not about Linda Ronstadt. While it says this in the title, I think fans will be disappointed; it is a very withholding memoir.

The content includes snippets about phrasing, vocal range, the sound of vowels, the technology, arrangements, rehearsals and choice of material. As close to anything personal are the pages in the beginning about her family an
I should admit this up front: Linda Ronstadt was one of my boyhood crushes. She had those big doe-eyes—and looked lovely in short-shorts—which made her a beautiful young 1970’s woman. But what really moved her to the top of my personal chart was that voice. Hearing her sing plaintive songs like “Blue Bayou” or “Ooh Baby Baby,” then bust into a rocker like “Poor Pitiful Me”—and sing both styles with such natural grace and power—moved something in my heart.

And amazingly, she didn’t even know how
Mike French
I rarely read non-fiction, but after seeing Linda Ronstadt on The Travis Smiley Show and talking about her book, I decided to read it. Being a fan of Linda and Country Rock from the 70's Ilooked forward to reading about my favorites. I very much enjoyed stories about her childhood and her early career. From her Nelson Riddle days and forward, I found it lacking. It seemed to me she just wanted to get the book over with .
Susan Quinn
This is not a tell-all book. It is exactly what the title says it is: a musical memoir. Rondstadt keeps the focus on the progression of her long and successful career--exploring different musical genres, collaborating with other musicians, and refining her vocal technique. If you want juicy stories about past boyfriends or misbehaving rock stars, you have to look elsewhere. With the exception of a couple of mild tales of long-dead Jim Morrison and Gram Parsons, the book is gossip free. She's kin ...more
Gary Singh
She fondly recalls the engine sounds of B-29 airplanes flying over her house, when she was a kid. And she tried to emulate those sounds in the string arrangements years later. Beautiful.
Boy, am i finished! Twenty two pages was all I could stand.
I'd seen Ronstadt on talk shows and thought she was an egotistical bore who took herself much too seriously. Surprise, she's the same in her book. What was I thinking?
A musical memoir is an accurate title for Linda Ronstadt's book. The author shares her childhood growing up in a musical, talented family. This early exposure to music helped to shape her for her career in music. She had an amazing career and her music ran the gamut from the Mexican music her father loved to performing in the Pirates of Penzance. She details her struggles as she tries to make a living in music and as she explores the wide variety of music she's drawn to. At times, it was necessa ...more
Bruce Scott
After Keith Richard's "Life," here's a rock autobiography that's completely different. Her career crosses the paths of many of the same musicians, but the memoir is less, well, hazardous. I attended one of her first concerts, opening or Neil Young, and "Long, Long Time" is one of my favorites from those times. I missed her later career, and I'm sorry because it clearly tracked her route back to her roots in the southwest, something that would have expanded my horizons. Maybe I'll give some of th ...more
Connie N.
This is a simple memoir written by Linda Ronstadt in a simple and easy style, very clear and concise and pleasant. Nothing too exciting, but it moved forward consistently. What interested me most was the fact that Linda has embraced many different styles of music, stretching her skills and growing as an extremely talented musician. She seems to be unassuming, quiet, and a genuinely nice person. She started out in the folk genre, gradually working with other like-minded musicians and helping to c ...more
Gary Anderson
Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir is the story of Linda Ronstadt’s musical life, including her influences and experiences before, during, and after her reign as Queen of Rock in the 1970s. In this memoir Ronstadt doesn't explore her relationships or emotional life, which is fine with me. I’m more interested in the music. Although many interesting people step on stage in Simple Dreams—Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Nelson Riddle, John David Souther, Aaron Neville, The E ...more
Jeff Tucker
Linda Ronstadt calls Simple Dreams a musical memoir. It’s not a biography although she gives quite a bit of information about her early life. Mostly it’s about her music and how her musical career developed. There’s plenty of information about her life on the road, collaborations with other musicians and her experiences in the recording industry. There isn't much personal information. She does mention J.D. Souther and Jerry Brown but doesn't say much about any of her relationships. I've always b ...more
David Kudlinski
I remember being absolutely mesmerized by a picture of Linda Ronstadt on a billboard in Santa Monica, CA in the mid-1970s, when I was around 14 years old on vacation. I also recall when her famously alluring cover photo for Time Magazine came out in 1977.

I like her rock and roll hits of the 1970s. But in 1980, Linda got a short haircut and switched from pop-country-rock arena music to Broadway musicals - and then onto American Standards and Spanish music for the remainder of her career, which I
This is a book I won as a Goodreads first reads. It is an advanced uncorrected proof, although I did not notice any errors. Linda does an excellent job of writing and I found it a very enjoyable and easy read. Other than a description of her childhood in Arizona is was not so much an autobiography of her life, but an account her musical career and experiences. She grew up in a very musical family and music was part of her everyday life as a child. It is something that she loves and takes very se ...more
Eric Baum
Having been a fan since the early "Don't Cry Now" days, I approached this a little timidly. Ronstadt has one of the truly amazing voices of her generation, but based on multiple concert experiences, she's not the most personable of performers. Think of her [back in the day] as the anti-Liza, who would explode off the stage into the audience, making everyone think that she was so excited to be singing for you and that each person was a personal friend who she hadn't seen in years; Ronstadt would ...more
Michael Thorner
Ronstadt is a born storyteller, and I admired her clean, direct, wry, and uncomplicated way she tells her life story . She focuses on the music, and remains quite respectful of the famous peers she came into close contact with during the 1970s and 1980s. I think she could have spent more time talking about her time with Jerry Brown and George Lucas, and talked about her time raising her children (she barely mentions then), but her choice is to write about the music she loves. The book was comple ...more
Sebastian Bach
Simple Dreams could be titled 'Simply Sublime'. This book is rare, in that is almost exclusively focused on my favorite subject: singing. I have hardly ever read a 'musical memoir' that has much, if at all, to do with music. %99 of these books are about personality, partying, debauchery, all of which has it's place, but to read Linda Ronstadt explain her life through her singing process, with words put together so beautifully, made for a book which I never wanted to end. A book by an artist I kn ...more
Although Linda Ronstadt seemed very open in interviews during her career, there was still a lot she didn't tell. This book is not a romantic tell-all, nor is it a book dissing anyone in the business. Ronstadt has always been appreciative of the musical influences that came before her, and admiring of the ones she counts herself as grateful to have worked with, including all her bandmates and Emmylous Harris, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, and the list goes on and on.

I enjoyed learning about Ronstadt
Oct 28, 2014 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I am glad to have read this book written by Linda Ronstadt. She stuck with her musical growth and did not get into her love interests. I respect her for her honesty and integrity, not always qualities you associate with stars.
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Linda Maria Ronstadt (born July 15, 1946) is an American popular music singer. She has earned 11 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, an ALMA Award and numerous United States and internationally certified gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums. She has also earned nominations for a Tony Award and a Golden Globe award.
More about Linda Ronstadt...
The Best of Linda Ronstadt Sueños Sencillos: Memorias musicales Linda Ronstadt; Get Closer Song Book Linda Ronstadt Greatest Hits - Volume Two - Song Book Somewhere Out There (From an American Tail) (Piano Vocal, Sheet Music)

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“I have always believed that one learns more from failure than from success.” 4 likes
“Someone once asked me why people sing. I answered that they sing for many of the same reasons the birds sing. They sing for a mate, to claim their territory, or simply to give voice to the delight of being alive in the midst of a beautiful day. Perhaps more than the birds do, humans hold a grudge. They sing to complain of how grievously they have been wronged, and how to avoid it in the future. They sing to help themselves execute a job of work. They sing so the subsequent generations won’t forget what the current generation endured, or dreamed, or delighted in.” 3 likes
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