Thursday, September 29, 2016

Song of the Day: 'Poor Poor Pitiful Me' by Linda Ronstadt

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 8:49 PM

click to enlarge linda_ronstadt-poor_poor_pitiful_me_s.jpg

Tucson’s own human siren song was already an itchy-palmed dream for boys (and girls) by this ’78 single—a household name really, no doubt helped by a fetching Time Magazine cover story that featured a shot of a scantly-clothed Ronstadt sipping steaming sauce over a stove, sexualized for the American mass consciousness.

This version of “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” didn’t top songwriter Warren Zevon’s godhead version, but damn if it ain’t peerless in a ’70s radio-rock, sterile production, hit-single sorta way. Golden-eared producer (and Ronstadt manager) Peter Asher kept the spirits alive in a way that transcended said sterility because the man understood songs. Hear that.

A sweet acoustic drone and cowbell opens to Ronstadt’s hip-swinging sexuality and Waddy Wachtel's anthemic four-on-floor riff, and you can visualize coke-gacked grins on faces of the post-Laurel Canyon mellow mafia all over this—a weirdly beautiful thing in hindsight. And god love fright-haired Wachtel and his bong-smoke-clearing power chords that bestow the tune with indelible weight and oomph.

Zevon’s version, with all the suicide and domination in the lyrics etc., was ironic self-mockery passed off jokingly as narcissism yet still narcissistic as hell, on purpose. But Zevon knew that—that’s how fucking smart he was, and his had the requisite weatherbeaten vocal tone to match the literate and deceptively simple sentiment. But Ronstadt’s slightly cleaned up version had real sexual verve, and her unstoppable voice, which gave the song staying power.

Still, it’s really too bad Ronstadt switched the song’s gender here because that changes the male/female power dynamic in the worst way (a woman-pummeling dude ain’t no “credit to his gender”). Had she kept the gender as written, the tune would’ve been wickedly subversive in its time, but no Top 40 hit. Also dropped “West” from “West Hollywood.” Another meaning-changer. Shame.


Tags: , , ,

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Brian Smith

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Burlesque Fitness

Burlesque Fitness @ Floor Polish

Mondays, Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

Something Something Theatre presents "What Every Girl Should Know" (2014) by Monica Byrne

Catholic reform school girls in 1914 discover Margaret Sanger and her message of freedom through birth control.… More

@ The Community Playhouse Thu., Feb. 9, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 10, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sat., Feb. 11, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 12, 2-4 p.m., Fri., Feb. 17, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sat., Feb. 18, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 19, 2-4 p.m., Fri., Feb. 24, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sat., Feb. 25, 7:30-9:30 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 26, 2-4 p.m. 1881 N. Oracle Road.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. The Fetching, Saucy Black Cherry Burlesque Nails its 11th Anniversary Show With Some True Elegance and Beauty (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. 'Enemy of the People': The Phrase's Ironic and Instructive Literary History (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Get Lost in the (Buffalo) Sauce (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr on Rolling His First Kid Joint to Grand Funk, and 'We're An American Band!' (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. TUSD Sideshow (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation