Linda Ronstadt released her new book, “Simple Dreams,” on Tuesday, but the autobiography makes no mention of the fact that the singer has been battling Parkinson’s disease for years.
That’s because the 67-year-old wasn’t sure of her diagnosis when she finished writing the book, though she suspected that she’d had the degenerative neurological disorder for 12 to 15 years.
“I was struggling to sing for so many years,” she told AARP magazine in August, when she revealed her diagnosis. “I knew there was something dramatically, systemically wrong. And I knew it was mechanical and it was muscular… I had no control over the muscular, you know… The brain has to be able to send very, very subtle cues to your vocal chords and get the muscles to vibrate a certain way.”
Ronstadt, a 12-time Grammy Award winner, sold tens of millions of records starting in the 1970s with pop hits like “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved.” She also segued into country, pop, rock, and mariachi music, among other genres.
In “Simple Dreams,” Ronstadt details the moment she first realized she was a singer — at age 4 — and also recounts the musical path she followed.
“I can remember sitting at the piano,” she writes in the first chapter. “My sister was playing and my brother was singing something, and I said, ‘I want to try that.’ My sister turned to my brother and said, ‘Think we got a soprano here’ … I remember thinking, ‘I’m a singer, that’s what I do.’ It was like I had become validated somehow, my existence affirmed.”
Parkinson’s has now claimed Ronstadt’s ability to sing. At times, it can make it difficult to do small things, like comb her hair or brush her teeth, but Ronstadt says she’s grateful for what she does have rather than what she doesn’t.
“When I wake up in the morning, I think, ‘I can walk and I can talk, so it’s a good day,’ you know,” she told ABC News recently. “‘Cause there’ll probably come a day when I can’t do those things.”