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Linda Ronstadt opens up about Parkinson's, and her childhood on the Mexican border

linda ronstadt 660 reuters.jpg

Tenor Placido Domingo presents musician Linda Ronstadt with the Trailblazer award during the taping of the 2008 "NCLR Alma" awards at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, August 17, 2008. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) gives out the ALMA awards to honor outstanding Latino artistic achievement in television, film and music. The show airs September 12 on ABC. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES) - RTR21B7K

Singing legend Linda Ronstadt has just released her memoir, "Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir," a thoughtful book in which she explains her eclectic musical choices. Sadly, the 67 year-old Arizona native has also been in the news recently after announcing that she is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She spoke to FOX411 about the book, and told us how she’s feeling these days.

FOX411: You recently announced that you have Parkinson’s disease. How is your health?

Lindsa Rondstadt: It’s not great. I’m coping right now. I’m glad that I can walk and talk. I’m grateful for that.

FOX411: When were you diagnosed?

Rondstadt: About eight months ago, but I think I’ve had it for years.

FOX411: You can’t sing anymore though, which sucks.

Rondstadt: It does, but it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about it.

FOX411: Have you reached out to Michael J. Fox?

Rondstadt: I don’t know him. I know his brother-in-law a little bit, and I’ve had conversations with him, and Michael’s organization has contacted me but I’ve been on this book tour. When it’s over, I’ll talk to them.

FOX411: How did the book come about?

Rondstadt: A lot of people have said I did things for certain reasons and written about me, and I just thought I might as well have my own version of why I did things.

FOX411: You have covered so many genres! Pop, country, opera, traditional Mexican music, standards.

Rondstadt: There were a lot of singers who were better than I was, there were a lot of singers in each of those genres who were better than I was, but what I did that was different from anyone else is that I covered a wide range of things and I wanted people to understand why my choices weren’t arbitrary, they were very deliberate. I never tried to record anything I didn’t hear before the age of ten because I wouldn’t have been able to do it authentically. It just so happened that our household was a very musical one, and the fact that we were located so close to the border just brought in a lot of different cross current of things that I loved and listened to when I was young.

FOX411: What genre is closest to your heart?

Rondstadt: Mexican music is my strongest cultural identity, and at a music level what I admire the most. It’s beautiful and rich and there are so many different roots.

FOX411: You write of the border as a very different place when you were a child.

Rondstadt: It was wonderful. My father did tons of business with the north of Mexico because he owned a hardware store. He did business with all the ranchers in North Mexico and Southern Arizona. I grew up in the Sonora Desert which way more defines me, more that the state of Arizona or even the United States. I’m a daughter of the Sonora Desert and it extends into Mexico. I still go back and forth when I can. I have old family connections in the north of Mexico.

FOX411: You were quite the sex symbol in the 70’s.

Rondstadt: That wasn’t what I set out to be. That was something someone else put on me.

FOX411: What was sexy now seems very different from today’s standards.

Rondstadt: (Laughs) Well compared to them I looked like the Virgin Mary! The country seems to be gripped in a wave of sexual hysteria, since the 70’s. It’s odd to me, I don’t understand it exactly. Sex is such a normal part of life especially when you’re young. It’s very important when you’re 19, 20, 30, it’s important. It’s part of music, it’s a part of art, and it’s a part of social intercourse and part of who we are. It’s gotten to a point now where I think it’s kind of silly. The attitude of journalists now, nothing is off limits. People have asked me the most appalling questions.

FOX411: Did you experience sexism?

Rondstadt: In the industry but not in the music. Musicians don’t care. If you can play that’s all they care about. If you don’t mess up the groove or do something stupid, that’s all they care about. But the business itself? That always goes along, but I just went around people who were that way. I looked for people who were smart, readers, who shared my sensibilities. People who had refinement.


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