This afternoon I was in the car on errands and listening to SiriusXM’s The Bridge (soft rock stream) when a song came on that somehow reminded me of the (now-retired) American singer Linda Ronstadt. My thoughts then went to Ronstadt’s top-40 hit rendition of a song by American musician Warren Zevon (1947-2003), “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” which appeared on Zevon’s 1976 self-titled album.
I’m quite sure I heard Ronstadt’s 1977, gender-reversed version sometime in the past few days. It’s a terrific song, really showcasing her vocal talent and backing band’s solid rock musicianship.
The song’s sound is an interesting snapshot of evolution in rock music during the latter half of the 1970s: the drums sound almost like electronic drums, which, like drum machines, were relatively new on the scene. Either that, or regular drums had some massive studio effects put on them in production. (Electronic drums, which a drummer actually played, are quite different from drum machines, which are computer devices programmed to play a beat. Drum machines played a significant role in new wave, techno-op and electronic dance music starting in the late 70s and 80s.)
American musician and singer Jackson Browne suggested Ronstadt record “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” and she included it on her 1977 record, Simple Dreams (the only solo album of hers that I own). The song was released by Ronstadt as a single in January 1978. Canadian country star Terri Clark also covered the song, in 1996.
Zevon’s trademark grim, mocking lyrics seem in a way to complement English rockers the Smiths’ pleading in yesterday’s song, as both songs are about hard luck.
Ronstadt has been mentioned on this blog several times, for covers of other’s songs. I’ve also featured a recording of hers with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris singing Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and a recording of Young’s “Harvest Moon,” on which Ronstadt sang backup. She was a favourite of mine in the 1970s, and I continue to appreciate her talent.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio from Linda Ronstadt’s official YouTube channel:
Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.