Flashback: Watch Linda Ronstadt Croon ‘Blue Bayou’ With the Muppets

Flashback: Watch Linda Ronstadt Croon ‘Blue Bayou’ With the Muppets

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017
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By 1977, Linda Ronstadt had already scored a Number One on the pop chart (“You’re No Good”) and the country chart (“When Will I Be Loved”), and would have one of her greatest successes to date with the LP Simple Dreams. Released in September of ’77, it was preceded by the wistful single “Blue Bayou,” which hit stores on this day, June 13th, 40 years ago.

Written by Joe Melson and Roy Orbison, the idea for the dreamy, sensual tune had come to Melson while driving through Arkansas on his way back to Texas. Orbison finished the song, setting it to an unusual heartbeat rhythm, and recorded it for Monument Records in 1961 but did not chart until 1963, as the flipside of the fierce “Mean Woman Blues,” which actually peaked at Number Five, while “Blue Bayou” topped out at 23. Both songs, of course, would become Orbison standards, but even the singer himself credited Ronstadt’s version with reigniting interest in his music.

“Blue Bayou” was relegated to Number Two on the country chart thanks to Waylon Jennings’ “The Wurlitzer Prize” and “Here You Come Again,” by Dolly Parton, who is featured on the traditional “I Never Will Marry” on Simple Dreams. On the pop chart, the single was held to Number Three by “How Deep Is Your Love” and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” but early in 1978, Simple Dreams earned producer Peter Asher a Grammy, while “Blue Bayou” scored nominations for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance. The LP also snagged nods for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical (Val Garay) and Best Album Packaging (Kosh). As “Lago Azul,” the tune was also released for the Spanish-speaking market. Since then the track has been covered by numerous acts, including former child star (Curly Sue) Alisan Porter on The Voice, Trisha Yearwood and the Mavericks. At the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Carrie Underwood performed it together and it was also re-created during the Country Music Hall of Fame induction of Orbison’s producer Fred Foster by Brandy Clark.

But, for sheer entertainment value it’s hard to beat Ronstadt and a gaggle of Muppets, singing – and croaking – in a swampy setting during a 1980 episode of The Muppet Show. Backed by members of the show’s excessively hirsute band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, with musician Zeke invoking an island feel with a marimba solo, the clip features Ronstadt joined by a frog chorus. The song was featured in an episode in which host Kermit the Frog has a crush on Ronstadt and, as a result, is locked in a trunk by Miss Piggy. Other songs Ronstadt sang include (naturally) “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” which she would record for her first LP of standards, What’s New, in 1983.

Ronstadt would later appear in episodes of another Muppet-centric series, Sesame Street, singing the Mexican music she would record in the Eighties.

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