Is there a word for what Ronstadt is doing here?

I think she’s got the greatest voice in popular singing, just a fabulous set of pipes, but she does something with her voice (that I just love) that I don’t know if there’s a word for it: she sort of reaches down for something extra for a second or two. It sounds fuller, more bass-y, than her regular singing voice, which is full enough. In this clip, an example of it appears at about 0:20 in, on the phrase “Oh, no” but it’s in many songs La Ronstadt does, and I don’t know if there’s a technical term for it. Is there?

Ronstadt’s voice

You mean that growly thing, that soul singers do?

The main term I know for it is “growl.” Exactly how it is physically produced depends on the singer. Probably the most common way to do it is with the epiglottic folds, or so-called “false vocal cords.” But those who use it a lot in their style (like death metal singers) seem to be able to pull it off with vocal fry, which is uses your normal vocal cords, but tightens them to the point they don’t vibrate as freely, creating little pulses that make that “growling sound.”

In this case, she’s also combining it with her normal voice, which is why it sounds quite different than Death Metal growls.

Exactly. Further examples here at 0:40 and 0:48 on “fall” and “all”

fall and all

Indeed, one of those singers whose voice can penetrate whatever blocks most music from my brain. A documentary about her included fantastic praise from Dolly Parton. Parton is often considered the nicest person on the face of the earth and close friend of Ronstadt too but she stated about Ronstadt with clear envy and professional jealousy in her voice, “That woman can sing anything!”

I call it “gritty”.

I’d go with guttural.

It’s a styling associated with blues and rock. Linda Ronstadt was one of the first female country singers I heard use it, as country rock became a thing. Others who did it included Anita Carter (at around 0:45) and Marie Owens.

I find it so sad that we’re talking in the present tense when she no longer sings due to her PSP diagnosis.

I’ll find it much more sad when we’re forced to talk about her in the past tense.

Well, of course. But it’s sad she’ll have no new music for us while she’s still around.

It is like she’s passed away. Of course she’s a person with a complete life, music wasn’t everything for her, but making music was so much of her and so beautiful, and her live performances so much more so.

Phoebe certainly matches Linda, growl for growl.

What I want to know is, how come they don’t write songs like The Shoop Shoop Song anymore?

And that camerawork!

Yes, as did many rock, blues and jazz singers. But the styling wasn’t used much at the time in country music, especially by female singers. Phoebe did a wide range of styles, but the closest she came to country was folk.

People forget how much of a barrier there used to be between the rock and country music communities. (I know firsthand, because I’ve always been in both). Elvis endured blistering criticism from country musicians early in his career. Within a few years, country fans all loved Elvis, and hated newer rock styles.

As a lifelong fan and performer of it, I’m ambivalent about the culture of country music: it’s the last genre to accept new things, and quickly forgets there was ever a time without those new things.

I wonder how many folks knew what PSP was so didn’t have to Google it? I think posts are more fun when they are clear and simple and teach us things we didn’t already know (I didn’t know Ronstadt suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy!)

Sorry, I should have added something about it. I googled it, because my memory said Parkinson’s, but I wasn’t sure.

Ronstadt’s singing partner and fellow country rock legend Emmylou Harris uses it too sometimes.

ETA: I just noticed that this is not the version I knew from Gram Parsons And The Fallen Angels album “Live 1973”. I can’t find that version, but on that the growl in Emmylou Harris voice is much more pronounced.

ETA2: wait, I found it:

IIRC that’s what they originally thought it was and that’s what they told the public it was when they announced she’d no longer be singing. I believe that they were still working under the assumption that it was Parkinson’s during The Sound Of My Voice.

Yeah Emmylou growls, Patsy Cline growled, Loretta Lynn growls sometimes, and probably some others I’m not remembering at the moment.