Monday, March 5, 2012

Linda Ronstadt - "I Knew You When"

I Knew You When - Get Closer

(Debuted December 11, 1982, Peaked #37, 11 Weeks on the Chart)

At the time "I Knew You When" came out, it was yet another song in a very long string of songs that had been hits by other artists to which Linda Ronstadt would lend her distinctive voice. It was originally written by Joe South and had been a hit in 1965 for Billy Joe Royal and again as part of a two-sided 1972 Donny Osmond single. Ronstadt's version restored the opening "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" refrain that Royal did but Osmond left to his backup singers. It scratched the lower reaches of the Top 40 early in 1983 and quickly dropped from memory.

After that, Ronstadt did something that might have been seen as a risky career move. She grew tired of being the queen of cover songs and began exploring other areas of her musical interests. A trio of big band LPs with Nelson Riddle's orchestra followed, which really kick-started the "Great American Songbook" concept that other artists have followed. She also explored her own personal heritage, recording traditional Mexican songs. She also finished a collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris that was planned as early as 1978 but was sidetracked because all three were extrememly busy. The pure country concept LP that followed appeared just as the genre was embracing more traditional styles over the slicker, poppier "Countrypolitan" sound.

Despite the temptation to stick with what was successful, Ronstadt decided it was time to take her career in her own chosen direction, without regard for the consequences. That's an admirable thing from an artist who had been a multi-platinum seller for more than a decade.

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