Arizona (let alone Phoenix) is another of those states where I nearly draw a blank when I try to remember what musical flowers have blossomed thence. To be honest (and it's as much a reflection of my ignorance as it is of Arizona's cultural legacy), I could only conjure up the name of one artist from the Copper State. I'll get to that person in a moment.
But first, I did some rudimentary research to see whom I should have known was from Arizona. A relatively short list of semi-familiar acts is all I found. There were, however, two musicians I like and in each case I had known but forgotten they were Arizonans. They come from two very different genres.
If you've been reading these previews you know that I am fond of early country music. The Sons of the Pioneers were one of the first western vocal groups to hit it big; Roy Rogers is their most remembered member, but Bob Nolan of Arizona was another founding member and he composed this gem in 1936:
My throat is dry just from listening to that song.
And here is what I nominated for "Class Song" when I was a senior at Washburn High. Do schools still have a class song, by the way? And I have no idea what corny pop song won (not that I don't like corny pop songs), but this was already an oldie when I vainly hoped my classmates would vote for rebellion instead of sap.
Alice Cooper went to Cortez High School in north Phoenix. I wonder if they had a class song? And his name back then was Vincent Furnier. How did he come up with his show biz moniker? Ouija board.
Okay, now to the singer who came immediately to mind when I thought about Arizona. To me, she is one of the most underrated pop stars. She didn't write her own songs, she wasn't "edgy," and she was gorgeous and sold tons of records -- in other words, of no interest to the rock intelligentsia. But she has amazing pipes, impeccable taste, and has been proficient in more genres than anyone else you care to name: folk pop, operetta, country rock, Great American Songbook standards, mariachi, adult contemporary, new wave, and so on. She's great at harmonizing, duets, and lead vocals. Ladies (?) and gentlemen, I give you Tucson's very own Linda Ronstadt.
Here are five of her songs. Listen, if you will, and then share your Arizona music with us.