Willin’ but no longer able

I would have oh so dearly loved to hear Linda Ronstadt sing Lowell George‘s “Willin’” as a duet backed by the original Little Feat. A hearty thanks and tip o’ the hat to Bob Collins (still wishin’ you’d kill that autoplay, Bob) for digging up the closest we’ll ever get:

I’m pretty sure this clip was part of her Hasten Down the Wind promotional tour with Waddy Wachtel‘s band. And that’d be Dan Dugmore on pedal steel, but Mike Botts instead of Russ Kunkel on drums.

Here’s Lowell George — complete with trademark white overalls — and Little Feat from the 1977 Rockpalast show.

Willin’ is the song over which Frank Zappa fired Lowell George from the Mothers of Invention. Take your pick if the firing was over the drug reference, an extended slide guitar solo with the amplifier off, or too much talent.

Lowell George would die about two years after this, in 1979. Richie Hayward, Little Feat drummer, died 10 years later. I haven’t been able to listen to Little Feat since Lowell George died.

Just for good measure here’s the entire Little Feat 1977 Rockpalast set:

  1. Skin It Back
  2. Fat Man in the Bathtub
  3. Oh, Atlanta
  4. Day at the Dog Races
  5. All That You Dream
  6. Old Folks’ Boogie
  7. Dixie Chicken
  8. Tripe Face Boogie
  9. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now
  10. Willin’
  11. Rocket in My Pocket

Ronstadt, like Joan Baez, is a remarkable interpreter of the songs of others. Those glorious pipes are now silent, as Ronstadt has told AARP that she suffers from Parkinson’s disease and “can’t sing a note.”

As Collins writes, “This would be a perfect weekend to pull out the dusty old Ronstadt albums — every boomer has them — and hook up the turntable again.”

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