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Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,440 Ratings  ·  362 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
Sep 24, 2013 Karen Segboer rated it it was ok
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
Sep 20, 2013 Don rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2015 Antigone rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
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
Rita K
Nov 04, 2013 Rita K rated it it was ok
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
Sep 16, 2013 Biblio Files rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 06, 2013 Lynn rated it it was ok
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
Sep 27, 2013 Joyce Gray rated it it was ok
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
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
Jody Zimmerman
Sep 21, 2013 Jody Zimmerman rated it it was amazing
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

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
Mary Miller
Mar 25, 2014 Mary Miller rated it it was ok
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
Jul 08, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Jan 25, 2014 Mike French rated it liked it
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 .
Christine Cody
Jun 06, 2016 Christine Cody rated it really liked it
Unlike many other famous people who write their memoirs, Ronstadt doesn't reveal details of her love life or share unkind stories about other celebrities. Music has been at the center of her life since she was a child (her grandparents and father had careers in music, and she and all her siblings were musical practically from the womb). Like her life, this book is about the music. Her childhood included wonderful nights when all the neighbors would get together for food, conversation, and of cou ...more
Susan Quinn
Jun 21, 2014 Susan Quinn rated it really liked it
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
Jan 12, 2014 Gary Singh rated it it was amazing
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.
Stephanie Hayes
Apr 26, 2016 Stephanie Hayes rated it did not like it
I have never been Linda Ronstadt's biggest fan, but her music was a part of the soundtrack of my life in the 1970s. I still think Blue Bayou is one of the most beautiful songs ever, and I loved her work with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Also, I saw her at the Mountain Aire festival in Calaveras County in 1979 and was charmed by her stage presence. When I came across this book I was excited to find out more. Unfortunately it was a big disappointment. It's described as a musical memoir, but it ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Patrice rated it did not like it
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?
Feb 22, 2016 Gtee rated it it was ok
As a musical memoir Linda does a good job of explaining how her music evolved back to when she was a child growing up in Arizona. If you're looking for some history on her love life, forget it. She mentions a few romances but never in detail. She is very polite about her "exes" and seems to have remained friends with all of them. She comes across as a very sweet and kind person and everyone she met along the way also seem sweet and kind. How real is that? I suppose it could happen - but in the m ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Mom rated it liked it
I really wanted to give this book a higher rating, but as I read along I became overwhelmed with all the details of her albums and the making of them. The beginning is interesting because she has included some personal information about growing up and her relationship with her family. Later, she mentions her son once and presents a picture of her daughter but doesn't mention her. I would have liked to have some more personal information in the subsequent chapters as well. Yes, it is a musical me ...more
Oct 12, 2015 Cyndi rated it really liked it
I just wish there was more dirt haha!
Mar 23, 2015 Betty rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2015 Bruce Scott rated it really liked it
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
Jul 16, 2015 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Linda's story, in her own words. She said that she felt that the time had come to set the record straight once and for all. I am certain she was referring to her career, and personal relationships. Linda seemed amused at times, just how inaccurate that some of the tales told about her were.

As I read this memoir, I couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like to be surrounded early in by so many notable musicians singers and songwriters who would all make the
Connie N.
Jul 16, 2014 Connie N. rated it liked it
Shelves: music, memoir
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
Sep 07, 2013 Gary Anderson rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 28, 2013 Jeff Tucker rated it really liked it
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
May 25, 2015 David Kudlinski rated it it was ok
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, all of
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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...

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“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.” 5 likes
“I have always believed that one learns more from failure than from success.” 4 likes
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