Not knowing much about Linda Ronstadt outside of some big hits, I stumbled upon Silk Purse last year while looking for cover versions of “Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow?”, as made famous by The Shirelles. I loved Linda’s take on the song and this quickly became one of my favorite country albums.
Recorded in Nashville at age 23, Rondstadt’s second album Silk Purse is a mostly breezy record, as evidenced by its adorable album cover and short runtime (just under 30 minutes). The brevity makes it easier to love. There’s an undeniable Soul imbued in the aforementioned Shirelles cover as well as “Are My Thoughts With You?” (written by the great Mickey Newbury,), and the traditional singalong closer “Life is Like a Mountain Railway”.
Elsewhere, “Long Long Time” is a wrenching ballad with the album’s best vocal performance, and according to an admin on a Linda Ronstadt fan forum, “Linda was so exhausted after doing that take that she fell asleep in the control room.” The single earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, and was the only semblance of a hit from the album, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A few years later in 1974, Ronstadt would reach superstar status with Heart Like a Wheel. That’s an excellent album in its own right, but Silk Purse is simply an underrated gem that deserves more love. See a couple great related photos below and a link to stream the album today.
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