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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 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 curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, twelve Grammy Awards later, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey. Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folk-rock movement was beginning to bloom, setting the stage for the development of country-rock. After the dissolution of her first band, the Stone Poneys, Linda went out on her own and quickly found success. As part of the coterie of like-minded artists who played at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. One of her early back-up bands went on to become the Eagles, and Linda would become the most successful female artist of the decade. She has sold more than 100 million records, won numerous awards, and toured all over the world. Linda has collaborated with legends such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, J.D. Souther, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Bette Midler, and Frank Sinatra, as well as Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. By the time she retired in 2009, Ronstadt had spent four decades as one of the most popular singers in the world, becoming the first female artist in popular music to release four consecutive platinum albums. In Simple Dreams, Ronstadt reveals the eclectic and fascinating journey that led to her long-lasting success. And she describes it all in a voice as beautiful as the one that sang “Heart Like a Wheel”—longing, graceful, and authentic.


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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 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 curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, twelve Grammy Awards later, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey. Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folk-rock movement was beginning to bloom, setting the stage for the development of country-rock. After the dissolution of her first band, the Stone Poneys, Linda went out on her own and quickly found success. As part of the coterie of like-minded artists who played at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. One of her early back-up bands went on to become the Eagles, and Linda would become the most successful female artist of the decade. She has sold more than 100 million records, won numerous awards, and toured all over the world. Linda has collaborated with legends such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, J.D. Souther, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Bette Midler, and Frank Sinatra, as well as Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. By the time she retired in 2009, Ronstadt had spent four decades as one of the most popular singers in the world, becoming the first female artist in popular music to release four consecutive platinum albums. In Simple Dreams, Ronstadt reveals the eclectic and fascinating journey that led to her long-lasting success. And she describes it all in a voice as beautiful as the one that sang “Heart Like a Wheel”—longing, graceful, and authentic.

30 review for Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    Psst...This book is now available, September 17. Excellent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air: http://tunein.com/radio/Linda-Ronstad... 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 Psst...This book is now available, September 17. Excellent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air: http://tunein.com/radio/Linda-Ronstad... 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 to her list of creative abilities. The entire book has a mellow vibe. Even the unpleasant events are related with equanimity and with generosity toward those who wronged her. The subtitle of the book is “a musical memoir,” and she does limit what she shares about her personal life. This is not an autobiography in the traditional sense of the word. After the opening chapters about her upbringing in Arizona, the rest of her story stays focused on the evolution of her musical career. Linda doesn't dish a lot about the people who have shared her life. There are only two brief mentions of Jerry Brown, with whom she had a highly publicized relationship. Likewise, there are only a few sentences about her children, and she never uses their names. Everything else is about the music, but there are plenty of entertaining and unsettling stories to keep things lively. The seeds of Linda's musical versatility are rooted in her childhood, where the various generations of her family enjoyed everything from classical to mariachi music. Her huge success came from a combination of talent, flexibility, and being in all the right places in an era when country, rock, and folk music were merging and evolving into something new. She always returned to her roots when deciding on a new musical project. From Pirates of Penzance to great American standards to songs in Spanish, she writes “the music I heard...before I was ten provided me with material to explore for my entire career." This is a memoir without a lot of fluff, coming in at less than 300 pages. Highly recommended for her fans, as well as anyone interested in the American music scene from the '60s and '70s all the way up until she retired in 2009. Rating = 4.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    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 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. It's kind of incongruous to now refer to these relationships as "sweethearts" and "keeping company" (Jerry Brown). It's almost too Victorian and almost feministically backward for a woman her age and with her long career highlights. Although she says the book is not about her personal life but about the music, she was at one time engaged to a music producer while working on her Cajun music projects (no mention of him) and before that, was involved with other musicians (Lowell George of Little Feat, for one). She recorded her music for a period of time while involved with George Lucas as Skywalker Ranch. He wanted to marry her. This sudden demureness doesn't make sense and sounds phony. Her children appear from almost out of nowhere, and I'm sure her readers would like to know more about them, not intimate details (I understand Ronstadt's need for family privacy), but how she came to be a mother. This topic is skipped over almost to the point of being insulting to her son and daughter. She talks more about her childhood pony. Another reviewer said "... And I would've liked to understand how or why she came to be such a notoriously fan-unfriendly entertainer. She seems the loyal, gregarious sort, yet not at all toward the people who are largely responsible for her commercial success. Why?" Excellent question! It made me think of something I heard her say just recently. Ronstadt said, in an interview just last week to promote this new memoir, that she's strapped for cash. A friend and I wondered how that could be, especially after all these years and all her successes? She complained that "song writers make all the money", and she made her money mainly with touring after recording and releasing her albums, which she can no longer do. Did she agree to this book, a very slight volume, to make a few bucks? Was she at all concerned with doing anything other than filler/fluff, writing about topics she's already addressed? I feel somewhat duped :-( I really do wish Ronstadt well, and I do hope she follows up this very tenuous volume with her life after a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. There is more to tell, and her fans are interested.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I have been listening to a lot of Linda Ronstadt's music again lately. It was the soundtrack of my late teens and twenties and I've never tired of her musical sensibilities. I could listen to anything she sang, even la Boheme. Some reviewer complain there was no personal dirt, no real mention of lovers, etc. I shrug my shoulders. Linda was always about the music. It's what I love about her. I saw her in Central Park singing Gilbert and Sullivan, I bought all her albums up to the late 80s. No one I have been listening to a lot of Linda Ronstadt's music again lately. It was the soundtrack of my late teens and twenties and I've never tired of her musical sensibilities. I could listen to anything she sang, even la Boheme. Some reviewer complain there was no personal dirt, no real mention of lovers, etc. I shrug my shoulders. Linda was always about the music. It's what I love about her. I saw her in Central Park singing Gilbert and Sullivan, I bought all her albums up to the late 80s. No one will ever sing like her. She was simply the best.

  4. 5 out of 5

    etherealfire

    Loved this simply, beautifully written memoir by Linda Ronstadt. It only covers a musical history with tiny bits of non-musical personal history but every bit of information about her childhood was really special. It was clear to see how very much her early years informed her musical choices later in life. Loved this book so much

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I only recently became a huge fan of her so there is not much to say about the contents. However, I was intrigued to read this because Linda voice is mesmerizing, there is hardly anything like it.. Songs like Blue Bayou, You're no good and other iconic songs. Yet this book was not compelling enough for me to read through the childhood or her music career but I will not mind watching interviews of her. It was sad to read about her Parkinson; disease,that left her singing voice obsolete. There is I only recently became a huge fan of her so there is not much to say about the contents. However, I was intrigued to read this because Linda voice is mesmerizing, there is hardly anything like it.. Songs like Blue Bayou, You're no good and other iconic songs. Yet this book was not compelling enough for me to read through the childhood or her music career but I will not mind watching interviews of her. It was sad to read about her Parkinson; disease,that left her singing voice obsolete. There is this one quote that summarized how she felt about singing different genres. "The only rule I imposed on myself, consciously or unconsciously, was to not try singing something that I hadn't heard it by then, I couldn't attempt it was even a shred of authenticity. At the time, struggling with so many different kinds of music seemed like a complicated fantasy, but from the vantage point of my sixty- seven years. , I seen it was only a simple dream." I felt that this was a powerful quote, it spoke on the heart of singer and how she only wanted to sing songs that mattered to her.. I wish I can say the same about other singers who is not sucked into being a puppet with labels..Sorry long tangent but I am passionate about music so I tend to go overboard. I enjoyed the book for the most part, Ronstadt is one talented singer that deserves all accolades that she received!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    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 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 and at the end about her father’s death (leaving the reader to speculate about the one sentence on her mother’s death). The narrative is arranged in short vignettes. The later chapters have more substance than those on her early career, but all are sketchy. There is a lot of name dropping throughout. Could it be so simple? She moved to LA and after one (two?) open mike performance(s) at the Troubadour was asked to open for Odetta… and then was offered a recording contract? Some chapters have interesting caveats such as what happens at the first get together of a Broadway cast or that country record producers use focus groups to determine whether the fans like happy or sad songs. In the Epilogue, teenage children magically appear. A good example of how withholding this book is the topic of why Ronstadt has retired. I have read that she can no longer sing due to Parkinson’s. In the book she merely refers to voice deterioration after 50. If Parkinson’s is an unsubstantiated rumor, it is widespread enough that it should have been addressed. While it may be overlooked that a “musical memoir” ignores an artist’s children, I do think fans who have supported Ronstadt all these years deserve fuller explanation for her early retirement. While stingy about her life, for a book this size, Ronstadt is generous with photographs. They represent most phases of her career. The book has a good Index and a Discography. Since Ronstadt has done little song writing, she has no royalties. I’ve read that this was the motivation for writing this book. While this might satisfy Ronstadt’s need, it will not meet the desires of her fans. Perhaps she is holding back for volume 2 or merely hoping this will suffice. When I finished, I looked at the cover photo and it seemed to coyly say, like a kid with their technically completed homework, “Can I go out now?” I’m not sure how to rate this, because it is genuine (no ghostwriter) but its limited writing on its limited scope makes it a limited book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Don

    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 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 into her musical career, her recordings and her era. However, she zips quickly through all of this. Her early solo albums are barely mentioned. These records reflect an incredibly talented singer groping for a musical direction and it would have been fascinating to read her own take on this part of her career. Even HLAW is dealt with fairly superficially and all too briefly. The most enjoyable part of this book was Ronstadt's all too brief chapters on the early '70's L.A. country rock scene, talking about her friends Jackson Browne, John David Souther, Lowell George, members of the Eagles, etc. Lots of enjoyable name-dropping and brief mentions of songwriters and their songs that she recorded. But even here, one wishes for more depth to the story. The good news is that Ronstadt comes across as an extremely intelligent person; she's obviously more than just a gorgeous voice--she was and is a student of music, who was willing to get off the path that had taken her to great commercial success and explore different types of music. I realize that Ronstadt's intended focus is on the art of singing and her joy in delving into different styles of music. But she was also, perhaps uniquely, at the very heart of the '70's California music scene. Perhaps more than any other subgenre of rock, the music from that time and place remains beloved by millions in this country and has exercised huge influence on many contemporary performers. Ronstadt's memoir represents a lost opportunity to provide an insider's--perhaps the key insider's--perspective on the artists and music of that period.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Antigone

    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 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 humanity. Upon finishing this memoir I realized, sadly, that I did not know how she felt about much of anything. Not sure if she ever got married. Not sure where her two children came from. Not sure what she believes about love or hate, loneliness, despair, rapture, rage - none of it. I remain completely unaware of any emotional crisis she may have faced or conflict she may have struggled with. And to imagine these elements of existence didn't play a part in her artistic history is to do that history a grave disservice. Linda Ronstadt is on the very short list of phenomenal female singers of our time. I think it takes more than vocal dexterity to make that list. It's a shame she does not.

  9. 5 out of 5

    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 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 downplays her own performance and says how bad she was. This is someone who is a great singer. I find it difficult to believe that she doesn't know that. I saw her speak about the book this summer and enjoyed listening to her. She was funny and self deprecating. She did the self deprecating thing in the book but left out the humor. If the book had contained some of the humor of her appearance at the Library of Congress Book Festival it would have been a terrific book! I am sorry to say that the memoir is only moderately interesting. I still love her music though!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    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 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-writer, but there may be more information on that when the book is released. This is truly a musical memoir -- she includes little that doesn't have to do with making music. There are no shocking revelations and it seems that she has remained friends with every man she ever had a long-term relationship with. The only stories that show people in an unfavorable light are about Jim Morrison's threatening behavior and one or two others in the same vein. She goes into detail about the decisions she made about trying different types of music and how it was often a fight, since once people have you categorized, they don't like you to change, when it comes to music or almost anything else for that matter. Ronstadt says that she's retired from singing now, though that seemed hard to believe when I first read it. The interview and article in AARP online revealed that she says she has Parkinson's Disease and leaves her unable to sing. The article also mentioned some pretty heavy drug use in her past, which she glossed over in the book. In any case, she certainly has a good start at making writing a second career.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    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 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. She has sung and collaborated with some of the best musical professionals in the business: Peter Asher (her manager), Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Nelson Riddle, Aaron Neville, Emmylou Harris, and Nicolette Larson, to name just a few. Ronstadt's memoir encompasses her lively and loving childhood and personal relationships along the way, but it primarily focuses on her musical journey. She made many memorable and close friendships in the music business, and she is clearly a beautiful human being, inside and out. I was impressed that she knew Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison and that she was a close friend to Rosemary Clooney who I adored. Quite frankly, Linda Ronstadt is an amazing woman of phenomenal talent, and I highly recommend her memoir.

  12. 5 out of 5

    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 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 about her strengths and weaknesses and is quick to give credit to others. When discussing her reign as Queen of Rock for a period during the seventies she states: “My candidate for consideration as the first fully realized female rocker is Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. She has the musicianship, originality, seductively cool attitude, and guitar chops to secure her place in the tradition.” I like this book because it is such an honest delivery of the events and the people that shaped Rondstadt’s wonderful career. She describes getting snowed in for several days in 1974 at the home of John and Fayssoux Starling with Emmylou Harris, Paul Craft, George Massenburg, Ricky Scaggs, and Jet Thomas and remarks that she and Emmylou have been recording songs for thirty years from that “snow marathon.” I can hardly imagine the creative forces in that snowbound Maryland home. Her story is interesting and contains more than a few surprises for most readers. I applaud Linda Ronstandt for sharing a large part of her life story with us. The memoir held my interest from the first paragraph, and I was able to complete it in two evenings. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Ronstandt, who likes music, or who enjoys an inspirational story. This book would make a great gift to any aspiring artist. I enjoyed this book as much as I have enjoyed Linda Ronstadt’s music since I first heard Different Drum as a child in the late 1960’s. I am deeply saddened that Parkinson’s has silenced her lovely singing voice, but perhaps she’ll continue to offer us a view into her beautiful spirit through her writing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    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 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 strong paragraph to her close relationship to her mother in the beginning of the book, yet just a few sentences to her death. Additionally, a paragraph to her long time relationship with Jerry Brown and a few sentences to adopting her two children. If you are interested in learning about Ms Ronstadt's musical resume, this is the book for you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    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 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 played with her on it. Really that's all it was, the book was very short, she did share some pictures, of only herself, at the end, but for the money I spent, based on the reviews I read, I was very, very disappointed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wynn

    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 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 way. There were too many names of too many people I’ve never heard of. She does have a very interesting family tree, but we only get a very brief glimpse into her life as a small child in Arizona and that’s the most we get regarding her personal life. She very briefly mentions J.D. Souther as a songwriter and gives two brief mentions of Jerry Brown. We get nothing about how she felt about these men only that they were once together and now remain friends. There is no mention of her political activism, her roles as arts advocate or any of her many honors with the exception of one sentence mentioning her honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. She doesn’t discuss the adoption of her two children or why she never married. She mentions her friend Nicolette Larson several times. It seems they were close friends even living together, but there is not a mention from Ronstadt regarding Larson’s tragic death at 45. Surely it had to have impacted her. (Maybe I missed it) There are a few interesting stories outside the music. She describes her interaction with Jim Morrison which was surprising seeing how I’m not a Doors fan and the time she met Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Also of interest to me was her first sight of Emmy Lou Harris and Gram Parsons. She also describes a brief encounter with a member of the Manson family. I still don’t know anything new about Linda Ronstadt. If you're going to write an autobiography then write one like: Composed: A Memoir(Roseanne Cash), Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir(Pat Benatar), or Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock 'n' Roll (Lou Gramm).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    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 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 to sing yet. I’ll get to that. Linda Ronstadt’s autobiography “Simple Dreams” is subtitled “A Musical Memoir,” and that is truly fitting. The entire book traces her love affair with music. Ronstadt grew up in Tucson, in a house filled with music. From traditional songs echoing her Mexican heritage, to lush, Nelson Riddle-orchestrated Frank Sinatra albums, there was always a plentiful variety of music playing. Beyond records, her extended family and friends would gather nearly every Sunday. After dinner—and a few tequilas—folks broke out their guitars, and everybody sang. Linda’s brother was a renowned boy soprano, and he would harmonize with his two sisters on country standards they heard on the radio. Music wasn’t just background in the Ronstadt home, it was very much a shared, hands-on part of their familial life. “Simple Dreams” spends a good deal of time talking about Linda’s rise to stardom, and a good deal of time talking about what she did after she was the 1970’s Queen of Rock. Where she skimps a little is on her glory years, where she and her band sold-out arenas all over America, and her hits dominated the charts. I think this is by design. Linda Ronstadt wasn’t thrilled with the big arena show era, playing her hits night after night in huge, acoustically dreadful venues. She wanted to grow as an artist, to improve, and most of all, to make the music she’d always loved. When I said she didn’t know how to sing, I take that from her own story. Okay, she could obviously sing well-enough: she had a good ear for melody and harmony, and she had a lovely voice. She had those tools from childhood, though. Where she really began to hone her skills to their fullest potential was when she began working on projects outside rock & roll. She talks at length about working with legendary Broadway producer, Joseph Papp, who cast her as the female lead in “Pirates of Penzance.” She was so used to belting rockers or crooning ballads, that she had never developed the range and skill required to sing on Broadway. She could hit the notes and carry a tune. What she lacked was control and phrasing, as well as learning to sing with technical correctness, so as to reduce stress on her vocal cords. Her work with a legendary voice coach during “Penzance” helped her immeasurably. One constant presence during her successful years was her manager, Peter Asher. When Linda wanted to take a different route beyond the lucrative routine of “album-tour, album-tour”, Asher supported her. He did so very reluctantly—telling her she was throwing her career away—but he made her projects happen. And he repeatedly ate his words, as one odd turn after another sold millions of records and won armloads of Grammy awards. From her “Trio” projects with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, to her standards recordings with Nelson Riddle, and her Spanish music projects, Ronstadt continued to experience success and grow as an artist across a variety of musical genres. Just as she chose her own musical projects, Linda Ronstadt here chooses to tell her story her way. There is no ghostwriter on this book—it’s all Linda Ronstadt, and she’s a gifted storyteller. Also, for somebody who at times led a high-profile life, she remains markedly guarded—her personal life is her own. “Simple Dreams” mentions her longtime relationship with California Governor Jerry Brown only in passing, except for one short paragraph where she toasts their years together and wishes him happiness with his new wife. Linda Ronstadt wasn’t looking for a husband, nor pining for true love. The point of her forty-odd year career wasn’t fame or fortune (at one time, her big financial goal was to make enough money on tour to buy a new washing machine). She wanted to sing, to use her gift to its fullest, and ultimately to introduce a wider audience to the wonderful, magically eclectic blend of music she grew up with. Retired since 2009, Ms. Ronstadt can look back on her career proudly, and know that she’s done just that. Very Highly Recommended (nb: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine Cody

    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 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 course, music. As the sun set on the Sonora desert, soon instruments would come out and everyone would sing...she fell in love with the traditional music of her ancestors. By the time she was in high school, she was singing at festivals, folk clubs, and any place where people wanted to hear music. But Tucson didn't offer enough venues for her: after one year of college, she moved to L.A., unable to resist the lure of the exciting music scene and the opportunities to connect with other musicians. It wasn't very long before her lovely voice and dedicated, hard work put her at the top of the industry. In this book she writes about each discovery, each experience with recording, touring when it was new and terrifying for her, the great fame she achieved in the mid-seventies, the Trio albums with Emmy Lou Harris and Dolly Parton, her success on Broadway, exploring the Great American Songbook with Nelson Riddle, and ultimately her return to the Mexican roots she always had in her soul. Her lovely voice has been silenced by Parkinson's now, but Ronstadt doesn't talk about that in this book. She ends the book with her last recording and her retirement in 2009. If you've been a fan of any of the genres she has mastered, I recommend this book. I remember the first time I heard "Different Drum" on the radio. It pulled me in, as everything she has done has attracted me ever since. This book fills in details about her experiences without a lot of ego and lots of honesty and appreciation of other artists.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sirena

    I just wish there was more dirt haha!

  19. 4 out of 5

    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 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 dimensional writing style; only her pony and her mud huaraches, seem to show feeling. I wanted to like this book, I really did. I continued reading after frustration upon itself, hoping the book would eventually lead to feelings (it doesn't seem to go there), discussion or soul searching of her involvement with the music industry (nope, this is missing), humor about any event she faced or even description of her events. For someone who sings songs, with clear emotion and soul, I found this book to be so silted, without color or without any insight, other than "did this, done that", or "he seemed high" (?) , what does this mean for her, or to her reader? Again as other's complained, usually the decision to be a mother (natural or adopted) their are feelings involved, even if you wish to keep them from the vast public, some kind of feelings of being a mother or becoming a mother just seemed eerily missing, just like her reasons (? never discussed) for leaving home with her parent's not agreeing. Since most of us who read these books on artists/singers, are fans, the listography (as I want to term this book, a study on a list of songs, other musicians played with, and so forth) really isn't that interesting, unless there are emotive reasons for the songs, or something. In the end this comes off as a very long resume, with sort of non descriptives on relationships hinted at, not at all reaching to have us understand her as an artist or a person. It's sad. She's seems to be so articulate as a speaker on her interviews, funny, and touching. I somehow missed it. The cadence in the book is "dog at rat, period" and it makes it painful to read from my prospective. I really do wish her well. I used to sing (certainly not professionally) and can well imagine the hard loss of having that ability taken away from her with Parkinson's Disease. I am glad that she's taking her condition in stride (according to her interview with Tavis Smiley), I really just wonder if shrugged shoulders is all there is after a lifetime career and hopefully passion for what you do.

  20. 5 out of 5

    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 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 kind and generous to all, and this may be boring for some. And, certainly, you're not getting the full story. There is no mention of her illness, or why she decided to retire in 2009. She barely mentions her children and not a word about her weight gain. But no matter--the book has charm, and I liked her simple, straightforward style. There is no ghostwriter credited, so I assume she wrote it on her own, which is refreshing. I especially enjoyed the first chapter as she recalls her childhood in Tucson, AZ, roaming the desert with her ornery Shetland pony, Murphy. She recalls a time when American and Mexican families often crossed the border without fanfare to visit and socialize. I also enjoyed the chapters on her early career and the wealth of talent concentrated in LA, developing that distinct California sound, and a new genre: country-rock.

  21. 5 out of 5

    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 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 know mostly through my mom Kathleen & my Aunt Leslie, that is so much better than the books put out by my beloved heavy metal heroes. Don't know why that is, but hank you Linda Ronstadt!!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    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 .

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gary Singh

    Here's what I wrote in the paper: http://www.metroactive.com/arts/Linda... 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. Here's what I wrote in the paper: http://www.metroactive.com/arts/Linda... 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Brewer

    My curiosity was high, having seen the recent CNN documentary on Linda Ronstadt and having worn out her albums as a high school girl in the '70's. What an intelligent, creative, strong-willed and generous woman. As she promised, it is not a "kiss and tell" book. If you want to learn how music was made in the 70's, how it survived and thrived, read this book. I have a renewed appreciation for her big, bold ballads as well as for the lovely songs of her father. I'll be listening more, and praying My curiosity was high, having seen the recent CNN documentary on Linda Ronstadt and having worn out her albums as a high school girl in the '70's. What an intelligent, creative, strong-willed and generous woman. As she promised, it is not a "kiss and tell" book. If you want to learn how music was made in the 70's, how it survived and thrived, read this book. I have a renewed appreciation for her big, bold ballads as well as for the lovely songs of her father. I'll be listening more, and praying for her health and comfort. Enjoy this brief interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBHJL...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Boucher

    I read this memoir that celebrates Linda Ronstadt's music because there will be a documentary about her life out soon. Sadly, she is unable to sing anymore due to Parkinson's Disease. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan like me. I appreciate that she keeps the focus on the music and what it was like to be the "girl singer" in a male dominated business. Like many true artists, she was brave and fearless in her work, always exploring new forms (country, ranchera, standards, opera, Gilbert I read this memoir that celebrates Linda Ronstadt's music because there will be a documentary about her life out soon. Sadly, she is unable to sing anymore due to Parkinson's Disease. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan like me. I appreciate that she keeps the focus on the music and what it was like to be the "girl singer" in a male dominated business. Like many true artists, she was brave and fearless in her work, always exploring new forms (country, ranchera, standards, opera, Gilbert and Sullivan.) It served her well. A fascinating read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    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 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 create the California folk-rock style in the 60's and 70's. Her popularity grew so that she was singing in huge auditoriums and arenas, which (she felt) greatly reduced the impact of her voice. She eventually had the opportunity to sing in NY, first in Pirates of Penzance, then in La Boheme, both of which gave her some acting experience as well as changing her style of singing. To satisfy a need to sing the old standards, she worked with Nelson Riddle and created a couple of albums of old classics, greatly to the chagrin of her manager and record company. Both turned out to be wonderful (my favorites), although I was surprised to learn that she wasn't happy with her singing since she didn't have sufficient time to rehearse and refine due to the huge expense of hiring a full orchestra to record with. Finally, she went back to her roots and decided another huge departure by creating an entire show of traditional Mexican music, sung completely in Spanish, and featuring Mexican dancers and a mariachi band. Again, her label objected, but again these turned out to be so popular that she ended up cutting a couple of records completely in Spanish that were huge sellers. Other projects included working with friends Dolly Party and Emmylou Harris to produce the popular Trio albums. Plus she joined another friend to sing an album in French, emphasizing her friend's Cajun roots. Now in her late 60's, she lives a quiet life and reflects on her eclectic career and many successes. Very nice. Quick read. I'm a fan.

  27. 4 out of 5

    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 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 Eagles, Brian Wilson, Rosemary Clooney, and many others—they are presented in terms of their involvement in creating Ronstadt’s music from the late 1960s until the mid-2000s when she stopped making music publicly. Ronstadt’s fascinating insights about creating, performing, and recording music include how she learned specific songs and genres, and the challenges involved in performing in various situations—clubs, arenas, opera houses, television studios. The Linda Ronstadt who comes through here is smart, entertaining, clear-eyed, and articulate. None of that is surprising in Ronstadt’s case, but it’s rare in show business memoirs. Simple Dreams can stand alongside Rosanne Cash’s Composed: A Memoir, one of my favorite books of the past decade. Linda Ronstadt recently disclosed that she has Parkinson’s disease, an illness that has left her unable to sing. Although she doesn’t discuss her condition in this book, Ronstadt clearly implies that her career as a recording and performing artist is over. Those of us who are her fans may find this difficult to accept, but we can hope that she will continue to write about music from her perspective as one of the greatest and most successful American vocal artists. In the meantime, Simple Dreams gives us new ways to appreciate Linda Ronstadt’s musical contributions. Cross-posted on What's Not Wrong?

  28. 5 out of 5

    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, all of 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 which I didn’t follow. Her book is a chronicle of her passionate love of music and technical growth as a virtuoso singer. This autobiography also describes her many friendships along the way. This book would be most appreciated by professional musicians, who understand arcane technical music jargon. I applaud her for the numerous career risks she took, and the hard work and dedication to a music career. Business-wise, she is among the top sellers of albums, perhaps the greatest female singer of our generation. I am a little skeptical of rock autobiographies that are short on personal details and long on the discography at the end. Which leads me to believe the autobiography is part of the well planned, on-going commerce. Someone who is not a professional singer, like me, is likely disappointed by the book. Numerous celebrities she dated are not mentioned. Her famous romances have virtually no coverage. Linda’s left wing political ideology is not expounded. Two teenage kids just appear in her home. How did they get there, the stork? She soft pedals her 1970s rock star party lifestyle and further disappoints the reader. So, maybe the conclusion is that she is a private and sedate person, and her personal life is not now, nor ever was particularly salacious or otherwise interesting to the public. The book, perhaps in part by omission of personal drama, draws some closure to the question of who she is, driven but cautious.

  29. 5 out of 5

    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 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 been fascinated by the fact that she put together a backing band that later went on to become the Eagles, but she only briefly touches on that and it didn't seem to have much significance for her. I liked her descriptions of her early days in LA and the LA music scene at the time. It was difficult to detect any emotion in her writing but it was apparent that she has close friendships with several of her friends in the music industry. Fans of Linda Ronstadt will like this book and it also adds another layer of information for those, like myself, who are interested in the LA music scene of the 1960s-70s.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Hayes

    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 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 read more like a laundry list of random events. So many names were mentioned I couldn't keep track, and it was almost devoid of context, background, or feeling. It was superficial and seemed to have been written in great haste. There were bizarre segues and little or no structure that I could discern. Lastly, and this is a small thing perhaps, but photographs were captioned thusly, "Me and Dolly Parton sitting on a swing." Where was her editor?

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