The Hit Parader Interview- Part 2
by Lisa Robinson

Hit Parader, May 1978

In Part 1 of this interview (March '78) Linda talked candidly about her recent tour and the problems of putting together a new band. She discussed in detail how she felt she -- and the musicians working with her -- had changed, and how their music strengthened in the process of that change. On the frivolous side, she chatted about clothes, her stage wardrobe in particular. Here, America's foremost female superstar continues.

Lisa: You said you added some New York musicians - what have they done for the band? Positive things?

Linda: Well, they gave us a little bit more awareness of a professional attitude. Those guys are really die-hard professionals. You know, like lateness. I've arways had a problem with lateness...

Lisa: Really?

Linda: Yeah - and they hate that. You know, California is kind of laid back ... but these N.Y. guys really got us organized. And rightfully so, because they don't want to be kept waiting. I'm still late, but I do try a little harder now to be on time. Also - in terms of having a more professional attitude; every night after the show we'd listen to the tapes and I we'd tear it apart and try to figure out I where all the weak spots were...

Lisa: You had never done that before?

Linda: Well, we did it on the last tour a little bit but not as much and not to the degree we did it on this tour. I mean I really did sit there every night for about two weeks and listen. It was real painful for me cause I was having a lot of trouble with my voice - it wasn't in very good shape. Also I was afraid that I was singing badly - singing really out of tune. I mean the basic things, like singing in tune are things I've never had any trouble with. I do sing in tune. But I was singing wildly out of tune and my voice was cracking.

Also ... this tour has sort of been a time where I've been examining what kind of person I seem to be turning into and questioning it a little bit and wondering what direction I want. Some of it I'm pleased with and some of it I'm not pleased with. But a lot of that kind of creeps up on you. Attitudes can creep up on you before you even have a chance to realize and before you know it they've done you damage and they've done other people damage. And then you have to start re-examining them...

Lisa: Do you think the audience notices differences in your voice as much as you do?

Linda: I think they know if it doesn't sound good. I don't think they know exactly why, but I know, and the band knows and that was real tough for me to have to listen to.

Lisa: Are you considering releasing any of the material "live" on record from this tour?

Linda: Now, because the stuff that we're doing on the tour that's new is already on the album and it sounds real good. I'm not really interested in re-recording the stuff that's already out that have been hits. That would be the only purpose - to redo it with this band and I'm not really interested in that. And besides, I really love to record. I like to do that more than I like performing and I would feel like I'd be cheating myself out of fun...

Lisa: So you don't mind all that time in the studio?

Linda: No, it's hard but I really enjoy it. To me, being on the road is more intense - and if it's bad, it's unbearable. Making records is hard work but it's just incredibly fun for me. You always sacrifice a lot in terms of technical quality when you make a live record - it all sounds better if you do it in the studio.

Lisa: Do you feel that you need both in your life as a performer? That one keeps you on your toes for the other?

Linda: Well, one feeds the other. Going out on the road is like gathering up a whole lot of experiences and it also forces me to focus in on music. We spend a lot of time listening to music when we're travelling because that's all there is to do. If I was home I wouldn't necessarily focus in on it the way I do when I'm with a whole bunch of other musicians who are really concentrating on it. So it's like going to a seminar - you have to pay attention. And then, when I get home I take some time off and then finally the composite of all those experiences of both being on the road and travelling and all the time that I've spent being off - you know, going through whatever little relationships I've gone through - all that gets regurgitated back into music. It just gets spit right back out. I take it all in and then it just sort of comes together in the album and makes a little story. Like show and tell...

Lisa: It's good that you never stop growing and learning. It could get so boring just going out and doing gigs - and not even thinking about what you're doing, just mindless existence...

Linda: Nah, I never want that. I would stop doing this if it got to be like that. Pain will either stop you dead in your tracks or you'll learn something from it and you'll grow beyond that. It's always walking a fine line - it's a kind of a risk all the time - if you want to subject yourself to really intense experiences whether the pain is going to be so debilitating that it will cripple you or whether you'll be able to be fortified by it.

Lisa: You've always been very outspoken about your admiration for Dolly Parton ... how did you happen to come to work together on Simple Dreams?

Linda: Well, I met Dolly about seven years ago when I sang with Earl Scruggs at the Grand Ole Opry. I was dressed in standard rock and roll wardrobe of tee shirt and jeans, and when she came out dressed so beautifully I just couldn't believe it. She looked so pretty and I felt like a jerk in my jeans.

I had heard her sing on the radio and I was dying to meet her so I just went right up and introduced myself. She was so neat - and that was the beginning of our friendship. From then on I always was a giant fan of hers. Emmylou Harris is a big fan of Dolly's, too. One day Emmy called me up in a panic and said that I had to come over cause Dolly was coming to her house so I got in my car and went shooting over there and God, we just had a ball. We sat down on the living room floor and talked and we sang old songs - old Carter family songs and a whole bunch of Dolly's songs - in fact we taped a lot of it, us singing together.

It was so great that Dolly asked us to come and sing on her TV special, which we did, and even though I thought we all looked horrible, it was the best singing I've ever done on television. It was just great - the rapport was really excellent. Before the show began I was waiting to go on and I was really nervous. I had my guitar and I was trying to think of some songs I could sing that would loosen me up. I started singing 'I Never Will Marry' and I began figuring out new chords for it and since I was there in Nashville, and it's like an old-timey sort of song, I kept hearing Dolly's voice on it.

When I was getting ready to record it I heard that she was in town. Her producer called me up and asked me if I would come over and sing back-up on Herbie Pedersen's album along with Dolly. When I saw her there I said 'You know, we had a lot of fun when we sang together - you should come over and sing the harmony on my record cause I've always heard your voice on it.' And she said that she'd love to. I really had to get up my nerve to ask her. She came over and we did the whole thing live - she just sat there in the room and I played guitar. It really made me feel good.

Lisa: You've done television with Dolly, you performed alone at the Inaugural and you appeared in the background on the 'Saturday Night Live' show. Do you enjoy TV, or does it make you nervous?

Linda: All the people on 'Saturday Night' are so nice - I mean there's no back stabbing going on at all. They're real friendly people and they're really cooperative. It's like a family - it's like all the kind of things you might think would be nice on television - but it's really true. And it's the same way with Dolly. Performing at the Inaugural was great but everybody was nervous. We were all asking ourselves why we were so nervous - I always have stage fright but I didn't expect to get that scared. As soon as we set foot on the stage we were completely overwhelmed. It even happened to the most professional ones on the show.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were at the show and when they came backstage John said that they felt exactly the same way when they gave a command performance for the Queen of England. But as far as the rest of it was concerned - I thought it was amazing. I loved the whole idea of it and the humor in it.

Lisa: You've said it's taken you forever to get your house together. How's it coming along?

Linda: It's chugging along. I still don't have any door-knobs upstairs and I still haven't decided how to arrange the furniture downstairs. But the upstairs is okay and I have silverware and a Cuisinart.

Lisa: You mean you really get a chance to use a Cuisinart?

Linda: Yeah, a little bit. I can barely cook, but I shred up apples in the morning to put on my granola. That's the sum total of my abilities with the Cuisinart but I really like the whole idea of domesticity. I've always been a bit of a closet housewife anyway.

Lisa: Really?...

Linda: I've never gotten a lot of chops in that area but I like the idea of it. I might go nuts if I had to stay at home...

Lisa: What do you think of Karla Bonoffs album?

Linda: Oh God, it's beautiful. I think it's just gorgeous - that's one of the things we listen to all the time out here on the road. We take our favorite tapes along and the whole band listens and everyone loves it. It's hot music and it's really heavy. Karla's record really holds up.

Lisa: Do you think she was at a disadvantage having recorded some of those songs? Even though she wrote those songs you had already recorded them and it was inevitable that people were going to compare her to you...

Linda: People compare her to me because I do them very much like she did. The way I recorded them was very close to the way that she originally wrote them. I actually took more from her than she took from me. So when she does it the way she made it up people say it sounds like me, when mine actually sounded like hers to start with.

I think people are just going to have to listen to it for what it is. For one thing, Karla really has a unique voice. She doesn't sound even remotely like me ... our voices are so different. She's real Southern California sounding and she has a distinctive way of pronouncing words - like the way she says her "r's," which I think is real charming - and she has an incredible purity of style and intention. If there's any similarity in style, it's because she's influenced me. It's more Karla rubbing off on me than it's me rubbing off on Karla. I've listened to Karla for years and I think that she's a real sincere singer, real earnest. She's not copping any attitudes or anything like that. I love her voice - it's very strong and the music just shines through. People are going to compare us but it's really like apples and oranges.

Thanks to Robert Willhoit for providing this article.

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