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The Chicano Wave

Chapter 6: Linda Ronstadt & Her Father's Songs

Linda Ronstadt, the best-selling female rocker of the 1970's, also confounded the Pop music establishment, recording an all-Spanish-language album.

JOE NICK PATOSKI, author She's a Tucson girl and she's a Mexican-American girl, but we don't know that through her successes in her early recordings.

["You're no good You're no good You're no good Baby, you're no good."]

LINDA RONSTADT (VO) When I left home, I was 17. (OC) And I was kind of hoping that the musicians that I'd met over in L.A. that I was gonna form a little band with, the Stone Ponies, that they would -- we could maybe (VO) make a record in Spanish. Because after all, Richie Valens had had a hit with "La Bamba." But, the record company didn't like that idea.

My father's side of the family, when they got together, they sang in Spanish. (OC) Someone would start a song somewhere. Someone would have a guitar and start to plunk out a few chords. And the songs would start. And they were these beautiful, beautiful (VO) old songs.

[LINDA SINGS IN SPANISH]

[ "Land of the sun I long to see you Now that I live far away Without light . without love and finding myself alone and sad Like a leaf in the wind I want to cry... I want to die of longing."]

[LINDA PERFORMS IN ENGLISH]

["Shut the light Shut the shade You don't have To be afraid I'll be your baby tonight..."]

After twenty years as a pop star, Ronstadt had enough clout in the industry to fulfill her dream: a Spanish language album based on songs from her childhood.

LINDA RONSTADT (VO) "Who was going to buy this record?" is what the record company said to me. "I don't know," (OC) I said. I just couldn't hear that. The music was screaming in my ears. And that was that.

[RONSTADT SINGS - "CANCIONES" VIDEO]

LINDA RONSTADT (VO) I had to go back and find that little girl (OC) that was falling asleep in the uncle and aunts' laps hearing that mixture of Spanish and English. ' Cause that's really who I was first before I became a Pop star, whatever that-- all that craziness that went on in the '70s, you know, in the '60s and the '80s. It was just nutty.

[RONSTADT SINGS - "CANCIONES" VIDEO]

LINDA RONSTADT (VO) Making that record just helped (OC) cement my personality back together again.

Ronstadt's 1987 release, Canciones de mi Padre -- Songs of my Father -- became the best-selling non-English-language album to date in US history.

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