Linda Ronstadt, “Skylark”

Bob Dylan is currently doing it in a big way, and Rod Stewart did it – maybe overdid it – earlier in this millennium. But more than 30 years ago Linda Ronstadt, purportedly against the advice and wishes of much of her camp, recorded a trilogy of albums that featured some of the most memorable jazz, big band and Great American Songbook compositions. Among the songs on the second of those albums, Lush Life, was the classic by Tin Pan Alley writers Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, “Skylark.”

Ronstadt’s instincts were obviously correct when she felt that a switch from her rock and country leanings might do well with the public, maybe believing that a good song was a good song, period. When asked about the recording by DownBeat magazine in 1985, she said, “’Skylark’ is just an incredible adventure to sing – I just love it.” The three albums of standards (the other two were What’s New and For Sentimental Reasons) sold in the millions, with exceptional performances by Ronstadt and arrangements by the great Sinatra orchestrator Nelson Riddle.

“Skylark” was first recorded in 1941 by three different female big band vocalists. With lyrics by Mercer and music by Carmichael, the song was about the universal search for love, with the singer asking the titular bird if it has any idea where the man or woman of one’s dreams can be found: 

Skylark Have you anything to say to me. Won't you tell me where my love can be. Is there a meadow in the mist Where someone's waiting to be kissed.

By many accounts, the song was inspired by... Sign In to Keep Reading

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