“Sometimes it seems that fate, in more than random measure, aims its arrows at what matters to people most.” ~ Mary Schmich, from the Chicago Tribune

Linda Ronstadt will never sing again. She has Parkinson’s. This is the end of an era. Sites are filled with videos and images of the singer. I chose one that I remember from my youth.

A guy who I dated casually was absolutely in love with Ronstadt; I sometimes thought that he may have dated me just for my long dark hair. Who knows. But we shared a deep admiration for a woman with an incredible gift.

 

From Mary Schmich’s article in the Chicago Tribune:

But Ronstadt’s situation seems to have struck an especially tender spot in the collective psyche and triggered a response that goes beyond lament for the fading of a star and an era.

The deeper reason that the news resonates so deeply is that her loss comes with an extra twist of the knife: She hasn’t just lost her singing voice. She has lost her essential expressive gift.

A singer can lose an arm and still sing, can lose a leg or an eye. But her voice?

Ronstadt isn’t the first person to be robbed of her primary expressive gift.

Beethoven, the great composer, went deaf. Monet, the great painter, developed cataracts. Paul Wittgenstein was a concert pianist whose right arm was amputated.

More recently and closer to home, the renowned chef Grant Achatz got tongue cancer, now in remission, though the treatments temporarily took away his ability to taste. In the bombing at the Boston Marathon, runners and dancers lost their legs.

Sometimes it seems that fate, in more than random measure, aims its arrows at what matters to people most.

A musician who can’t hear. An artist who can’t see. A chef who can’t taste. A singer who can’t sing.

Fate seems to strike with a cannily precise cruelty.

I floated that theory past a friend the other day. He pooh-poohed it.

“We just notice more in those cases.”

Could be. And in some cases, people overcome the loss of their primary mode of expression by figuring out new ways to express themselves.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ronstadt does. Through her long career, she has also shown a gift for tenacity.

And even if she never sings again, which she says she never will, the songs she leaves behind will stay in the minds and hearts of millions of people who through the years have sung along with her.

My favorite Ronstadt song? So hard. I loved “Desperado,” “Blue Bayou,” and “You’re No Good,” but my all-time favorite is “Long, Long Time”

 

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4 comments on ““Sometimes it seems that fate, in more than random measure, aims its arrows at what matters to people most.” ~ Mary Schmich, from the Chicago Tribune

  1. Checking on some of the things I’ve missed… really enjoyed this… ended up listening to several Ronstadt songs. Long, Long Time is also one of my favourites… but “Hasten Down the Wind” is one of those songs that was exactly right at exactly the right time and still can make my cry… I loved that boy so much but I had to go and find myself… I was still grieving for having lost him until I met my husband…

  2. leah in NC says:

    I had a girlfriend who is a singer, Grace Griffith, in southern Maryland/DC. She has several CDs and discovered Eva Cassidy. She was diagnosed with PD around 1998 or so, about the time my Dad was. But Grace was YOUNG, and my dad was older. I can’t tell you how many people love Grace… My moving out west meant we didn’t keep in touch as much; we’ve pretty much lost touch… She had a brother diagnosed with PD, too, now deceased.

    I wish medical science would be able to find the causes of these devastating diseases so that the generations ahead could be spared…

    • poietes says:

      My other mother-in-law had PD. It was a terrible thing to watch. She sang in the church choir for decades before the Parkinson’s. You had told me about Grace Griffith before; I downloaded a few of her songs–beautiful voice.

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