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Music Review: Linda Ronstadt – Hasten Down The Wind

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Hasten Down The Wind was another transition album for Linda Ronstadt. 1976 found her poised between the country/pop sound of Heart Like A Wheel and her move toward a more rock sound (which would flower on Livin' In The USA).

This release has an elegant beauty to it, as the ballads and slower songs play to her vocal strengths. She used a number of new songwriters for the material as three Karla Bonoff penned tunes plus compositions by Tracy Nelson and Warren Zevon were selected by her and producer Peter Asher. She also stepped forward and co-wrote two of the tracks. The album was embraced by her fan base as it went to number three on the pop charts and topped the country charts in The United States.

While most of the album focuses upon laid back and gentle material, the one track which is up-tempo pop/rock is excellent. She romps through the old Buddy Holly classic “That’ll Be The Day.” She fills in the sound and her vocal would look ahead to the next phase of her career. It would become another in the long line of hit singles for her.

She has a style similar to Karla Bonoff and that fact is very apparent in her interpretation of “Lose Again,” which has some nice piano in support of her vocal, and the poignant “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me.”

The gem of the album is her haunting interpretation of the title song which was written by Warren Zevon. His songs always contain a depth plus some interesting twists, and Ronstadt takes this one and makes it her own. The old Patsy Cline hit “Crazy” received a simple but booming vocal and was a top ten country hit for her in 1976.

Her own compositions were interesting but not outstanding. “Lo Siento Mi Vida,” which was sung in both Spanish and English, reached back into her own family roots and looked ahead to her ethnic albums of the future. “Try Me Again” was written with long time bandmate Andrew Gold and is credible pop.

Hasten Down The Wind would win the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It is mostly a tender and back to basics release and as such holds up well over thirty years later.

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  • Lawrence Monn

    It is the only LP from her 70’s work that won a Grammy – for a reason!

  • Beau Bradlee

    And what reason would that be? It certainly wasn’t her best LP of the decade- Heart Like a Wheel or Simple Dreams would take that title.

    Of course, in those days LPs did not have a separate category. Albums such as Hasten Down the Wind were nominated along with singles such as Turn the Beat Around.

    It’s mind-boggling to me that the album Heart Like a Wheel lost its Grammy to the single At Seventeen. Linda was the only one nominated with an album. All the others were singles and I think this worked against her. The others being Send in the Clowns (Judy Collins), At Seventeen (Janis Ian), Have You Never Been Mellow (Olivia), and Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady (Helen Reddy).