The defining quality of Linda Ronstadt’s voice, for all of its power and beauty, has always been control. Those feathery la-la-la-las on “Ooh Baby Baby,” just a smidge behind the beat; the way, on “You’re No Good,” that she metes out venom — clear-eyed, pissed off, in tune. Ronstadt isn’t the sort of singer who lets her seams show, or who offers the musical version of her soft belly. And because she sings other people’s songs, even her most affecting musical moments are feats of interpretation rather than revelation.
So it is with Ronstadt’s new book, “Simple Dreams,” subtitled “A Musical Memoir” lest rock fans imagine they’re in for a run of all-nighters at Chateau Marmont. (There’s exactly one, a doozy, technically up the hill from the famed hotel, involving Keith Richards and Gram Parsons.) An articulate and engaging writer, Ronstadt has chosen to largely sidestep her personal life, including the recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease that has left her unable to sing. She makes an exception for her Arizona childhood, a desert idyll centered around an extended and exceedingly musical Mexican-American brood.