Today our Off the Road interview series concludes with music legend Linda Ronstadt, joining HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence remotely from her home in San Francisco. She’s the latest guest in our series of interviews with artists sharing their experiences during the pandemic. It wraps up two days of incredible storytelling based around the recent documentary Linda and the Mockingbirds.
The film documents a bus trip Linda Ronstadt hosted in 2019 with the Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, a California music and dance troupe of Mexican Americans she befriended and became a supporter of decades ago during the tour for her Canciones de Mi Padre album of folkloric Mexican songs. It's the best-selling non-English album in the United States.
During a forty-five minute recording session, Linda explained how she first met the troupe while they were performing on the street in San Francisco, fundraising for a trip to Mexico. She added a show to her tour at the time to fund that first trip, and over the years got to know the organization and leader, Eugene Rodriguez, explaining how she brought them together with a number of other performers like Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal and The Chieftains. In 2019 Linda made a trip with them that was filmed, bringing along longtime friend and fellow Los Cenzontles collaborator Jackson Browne, as well as some family members. She explains her connection to Mexico through her own family, her motivation for taking the busload of performers, the nature of the US/Mexico border’s historic land grab, and her empathy for the families impacted by US border policies that have included separating families from their children.
Today we hear more about the documentary, including some of the most touching moments that Mexican American families share and the traumatic memories from children who witnessed their parents being detained. Aside from discussing the film, both part two and the complete interview (posted today below) offer stories about some of the colorful relationships Linda has had, her role in the formation of fellow music legends The Eagles, and some classic stories about her experiences in Hawaii.
Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum.
Hear the complete interview:
See an alternate trailer for the film:
See a Q & A with Linda and the Mockingbirds Director James Keach: