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Music Review: Linda Ronstadt – For Sentimental Reasons

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October of 1986 found a forty-year-old Linda Ronstadt issuing the final album in her trilogy of popular standards. While it would not be as commercially successful as the first two in the series, it would still sell in excess of one million copies.

There was one tragedy during the recording of the album as arranger Nelson Riddle passed away before its completion. Terry Woodson stepped in and arranged the last three tracks.

The album continued the tradition of the previous two releases as it concentrated heavily on pre-World War II traditional standards. By this time Ronstadt had perfected her style of interpreting this type of material. While her vocals retained their pop tone, she was able to move many of the songs over to light jazz.

The album begins with a memorable Disney classic. “When You Wish Upon A Star,” from the 1940 film, Pinocchio, finds her voice floating on top of a smooth arrangement. The phrasing is exact and the tone perfect.  

Three songs from musicals written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart appear on the album. “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” from 1940’s Pal Joey, the eternal “My Funny Valentine” from 1937’s Babes In Arms, and “Little Girl Blue” from 1935’s Jumbo all show her love for pre-World War II Broadway. The vocals and arrangements are true to the spirit and style of the originals as they slide easily by the senses.

She reaches back to 1929 for “Am I Blue,” which was a big hit for Ethel Waters. Ronstadt’s version moves it in a jazz direction. “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons” is my favorite track. She takes this huge number one hit for Nat King Cole, which has been recorded hundreds of times over, and gives a definitive performance.

She tackles a straight jazz song with “Round Midnight.” Artists such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and others have made is a classic. And her vocal provides a new dimension for this old war horse.

For Sentimental Reasons closed yet another phase of Linda Ronstadt’s career. These albums remain as a testament to the vocal prowess and versatility of one of the great female artists of American music.

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