By the time her Greatest Hits album was released for the 1976 Christmas shopping season, Linda Ronstadt had been recording Top 40 hits for a decade, beginning with "Different Drum" as a member of the Stone Poneys. HERC SR. had been a fan of Linda's pioneering brand of country rock and honky tonk ballads since the beginning of her solo career, so it was no surprise he bought Greatest Hits for "the family" upon its release. He wasn't alone as the album has gone on to become Ronstadt's all-time biggest seller with over seven million copies sold in the U.S. alone.
The dozen songs on Greatest Hits had all been previously released on the albums pictured above and nearly all of the singles were crossover hits on the Pop, Adult Contemporary (AC) and Country (COU) charts. Click on titles below to see video performances:
- You're No Good (#1 POP, #10 AC 1975)
- Silver Threads And Golden Needles (#20 COU, 1974)
- Desperado (1974)
- Love Is A Rose (#5 COU, 1975)
- That'll Be The Day (#11 POP, #16 AC, #27 COU 1976)
- Long Long Time (#25 POP, #20 AC 1970)
- Different Drum (#13 POP, 1967)
- When Will I Be Loved (#2 POP, #3 AC, #1 COU 1975)
- Love Has No Pride (#23 AC, 1973)
- Heat Wave (#5 POP, #19 AC 1975)
- It Doesn't Matter Anymore (1975)
- Tracks Of My Tears (#25 POP, #4 AC, #11 COU 1976)
Somewhat tellingly, Greatest Hits peaked higher and enjoyed a longer run on the Country Albums (#2, three years) chart than the Top 200 (#6, a year and a half). Listening to this album now, under the stars on cool clear velvety dark night within thirty miles of the exact spot Linda came into this world nearly sixty-eight years ago, HERC can't help but fall in love with her voice all over again. The emotions are raw, rising above the clean production and sending beautifully wounded notes out into the dry desert air. That little growl she does gets him every.single.time. And yes, the song selection is ballad heavy and you're goddamn right that there isn't a song in the bunch that someone else didn't sing before her but the simple truth is Linda Ronstadt has made these songs her own. More than any other album released over her long and winding career, Greatest Hits represents why Linda is in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.