Chick Rebels in Words and Music: Molly Ivins and Linda Ronstadt

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. – Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)
Molly Ivins was a writer best known for her columns in more than 400 newspapers across the country which poked fun at her favorite targets: the corrupt Texas legislature, George Dubya Bush and Bill Clinton, her adopted state of Texas, bubbas in that state, herself, and the breast cancer that eventually killed her. A best selling author, humorist and speaker, she became one of the most famous female storytellers  ever to claim the state of Texas as her own – to run with that image as the tall Texan in her cowboy boots,  her pickup truck and  her dog named Shit as she mixed it up with the most powerful people in the state capital of Austin.  At her height of 6 feet she was easily spotted at the bars and cocktail parties where she drank with enthusiasm and was frequently overserved. Alcoholism was an addiction she considered necessary for her humor, but the laughs came with a steep price.
I grew up in Arizona. I love it. I’m a part of the desert. I feel like, really I’m from the Sonoran Desert, which extends to both sides of the border. I’m really from that part of Mexico, also. And I hate that there’s a fence, you know running through it. Linda Ronstadt (1946 – )
Linda Ronstadt was two years younger than Molly Ivins and came from a state farther west;  she told her stories with musical notes rather than simply relying on written words. A voice with a truly pure sound that defied labels, her eclectic genres included rock and roll, hard rock, soft rock, folk, art rock,  country, gospel, rhythm and blues, opera, standard American classics, Mexican mariachi, pop, five golden rings and a partridge in a pear tree. She became a female musical powerhouse in America during the 1960s and 70s when the profession was male and drug dominated – not necessarily in that order. Linda avoided heavy drugs but succumbed to an addiction for diet pills that plagued her at various times during her ten years on the road. In 2011 she retired due to the onset of Parkinson’s disease, a disease that also affected her maternal grandmother, a disease that has taken away her voice.
This past weekend Pretty and I went to see two documentaries…Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice and Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins. I’m glad we saw them close together almost like an old double feature because I had an opportunity to reflect on the lives of two women who used their individual voices of celebrity and talent to challenge the politics and culture of the newspaper and entertainment industries at a time when women across the globe sought to make their own voices heard wherever they worked and lived. Post World War II women never again would fit nicely into their ticky tacky boxes that all looked just the same. The times they were, indeed, a changing for women – Molly Ivins and Linda Ronstadt were two of them.
Stay tuned.


About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Chick Rebels in Words and Music: Molly Ivins and Linda Ronstadt

  1. Grand women, both. How lovely that their biographical movies came out at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debra Quam says:

    Great column, Sheila. I so enjoy your posts. I saw the Linda Ronstadt documentary and now will look for the Molly Ivins documentary. Love both of those remarkable women and you too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so very much, my good friend of many moons. Do go see Molly, too – she has been one of my sheroes for forever. Love you, too!! We are hoping to be in California next March – you and Audrey are MUST SEES!!


  3. Luanne says:

    Two great women! Is this Ronstadt documentary going around? I would love to go with my daughter. Ronstadt songs are daughter’s “cover song” specialty. Her voice doesn’t sound like Ronstadt’s but is well suited for the same songs. I hate hate hate that LR has lost her voice. What a cruel illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, both of these documentaries are making the art house theaters now. Please make your daughter go with you to see the Linda one. We have tried to bribe our son and his wife to go while we babysit, but they can’t rally for it. Their loss.
      Luckily, the film doesn’t focus on the loss of her voice – it is a real life tragedy for sure. But the focus is on her music, music, music. You will love!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cindy knoke says:

    I am a Linda fan from way back and would love to see both documentaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thom Hickey says:

    Bravo both!

    Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Susanne says:

    Linda Ronstadt’s music is the soundtrack of my early teens. What a voice. One of my favourite albums was something she made in the early ‘80’s with Nelson Riddle of music from the 40’s. Incomparable.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bob Slatten says:

    We’re seeing the Linda Ronstadt doc Thursday.
    I think she is possibly the greatest female vocalist ever, from the sheer breadth of her talent and musicality. I have never heard her sing a note that wasn’t perfection, from the Stone Ponys through Nelson Riddle and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

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