Recently retired and in the news because her Parkinson’s disease no longer allows her to sing, Ms. Ronstadt writes not about the present, but not the past in her new autobiography, Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. Growing up with every kind of music in her Arizona home influenced what she would sing as a performer. With a powerful voice she topped the record charts with such memorable songs as Blue Bayou and You’re No Good. Never wanting to be typecast, she also went on to record standard show tunes, Mexican folk songs and a Gilbert Sullivan operetta. The book is quite engaging in that it is a coming of age story with Linda Ronstadt coming off as likeable. Although she had some high profile romances (including one with an unmarried Governor Jerry Brown) the book is not a tell-all.
There was a period when Los Angeles Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn was the journalist to read. Now he has written a book about someone he interviewed many times and knew well. Johnny Cash, The Life attempts to capture the story and musical history of the late country singer who seemed as well known for his personal issues as his songs. Often known as The Man in Black for the clothes he frequently wore, Mr. Cash sang about tough times and the people who lived them. A prolific song writer, some of Johnny Cash’s best known songs are Ring of Fire (written by wife June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore) and Folsom Prison Blues. The book is a real opportunity to discover the person behind the celebrity.
Biography readers and music fans will enjoy these two new titles.