Barack Obama's Boyhood Crush? Linda Ronstadt, It Turns Out
Legendary American singer Linda Ronstadt had herself quite the afternoon Tuesday, receiving in a White House ceremony the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the government can bestow on an artist. But she also got another, much cooler surprise — President Obama admitted his boyhood crush to Ronstadt, whispering in her ear during the event. He later admitted to the assembled crowd as much, according to CNN: "I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day."
It was a sweet moment, and from the perspective of a young man in the 1970s — Obama was born in 1961, and is 16 years younger than Ronstadt — he surely wasn't the only one with a crush on the iconic music star. Her career spanned over four decades, starting in 1967 and ending in 2011, when she announced her retirement (she subsequently revealed in 2013 that she'd been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and had lost the ability to sing).
But throughout that lengthy career, her razor-crisp, soaring vocals were a permanent feature of the American music landscape, and if you've got any heart or soul for a good tune, it might be hard not to fall a little smitten.
Ronstadt wasn't the only one receiving the lofty arts honor Tuesday — ten more people were honored, including longtime NPR host Diane Rehm. While Obama's comments on the honor were given on the group collectively, they had a special resonance with one of America's most celebrated vocalists in attendance.
According to the Tucson Sentinel, Obama said:
The late, great Maya Angelou once said, 'A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Each of the men and women that we honor today has a song — literally, in some cases. For others, it’s a talent, or a drive, or a passion that they just had to share with the world. We can never take for granted the flash of insight that comes from watching a great documentary or reading a great memoir or novel, or seeing an extraordinary piece of architecture. We can’t forget the wonder we feel when we stand before an incredible work of art, or the world of memories we find unlocked with a simple movement or a single note.
If Obama had been born a little earlier, and had launched his political career a bit sooner, maybe he could've actually fulfilled his crush on Ronstadt — after all, she's not averse to politicians. Ronstadt famously dated current California Governor Jerry Brown back in the late 1970s, during his original tenure in the office, and ended up pinning a rather embarrassing nickname to the ambitious Democrat — she called him "Moonbeam" in a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone, a name also used by the late Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko, and it's followed him around ever since.