Hit & Run

Poor, Poor Pitiful Her

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Time was Linda Ronstadt could whip her fans into a frenzy by wearing a Cub Scout uniform and dating Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown. These days, the songstress is doing it by peppering her shows with political bons mots. Reports the San Diego Union-Tribune about a Sunday night show:

She dedicated her soaring version of the Nat "King" Cole classic "Straighten up and Fly Right" to "the good folks at Enron, who brought you the California energy crisis." She also dedicated the song to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom she chided for his recent claim that Democrats in Sacramento opposing his proposed budget cuts are "girlie men."

"Now I'm wondering," Ronstadt mused, "what if you're a female legislator? Does that make you a 'manly girl?' Or a 'manly woman?'"

She also gave props to Michael Moore--hailing him as "a great American patriot and certainly the man of the hour"--during her encore, which drew boos and cheers from the crowd.

Like a musical Moses staging a song-fueled parting of the Red Sea, the veteran star instantly split her sold-out audience of 1,360 in two.

Half the crowd heartily applauded her praise for Moore, the other half booed. In an instant, the intimate outdoor venue on Shelter Island filled with a roar of cheers and jeers that grew to a near-fever pitch.

As Ronstadt started to perform her encore, an impassioned version of the Eagles' "Desperado," dozens of concertgoers angrily streamed toward the exits, while others gave her an ovation.

Whole thing here. Reuters reports that the night before that show, Ronstadt was kicked out of The Aladdin for the same antics. When she went into her political bit, concertgoers "guests who spilled drinks, tore down posters and demanded their money back." That account here.

It may be a holdover from my admiration for SCTV, which once featured a hilarious bit in which funnyman Bobby Bittman insisted on interrupting a set with a call for solidarity on the Falklands War, but I've always enjoyed it when celebs launch into political jabbering in front of a paying audience.

Indeed, years after any given performance, it usually is the only thing worth remembering. And it's almost always more entertaining--whether intentionally or not--than whatever the performer is actually being paid to do.