Linda Ronstadt trends today after her song “Long Long Time” was featured in one of the trendiest new shows to hit television in 2023. HBO’s new show The Last of Us, based on a video game of the same name, continues to receive critical acclaim at just three episodes into its season one run. The show follows a smuggler named Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and a young girl named Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) as they journey across a deadly post-pandemic America to a facility that could offer answer’s about Ellie’s immunity. Across their journey, stories of people that cross their path are revealed.
Such was the case in the third episode of the series, which aired last night. The episode, titled aptly after Ronstadt’s 1970 song “Long Long Time” shares the back story of two of Joel’s longtime allies, Bill (played by Nick Offerman) and Frank (played by Murray Bartlett). In 2007, four years after the outbreak begins, Bill, a survivalist who lives alone on a remote compound, invites Frank into his home. The two begin a long romantic relationship and eventually get married.
It is revealed that Frank is dying of a degenerative disease, and asks Bill to euthanize him to take the pain away. Bill dies by suicide at the same time as he fulfills Frank’s wishes. Before they passed away, they left a note for Joel, leaving their car and survival supplies to him.
The song first plays over the radio in a lonely Bill’s home when Frank first enters, foreshadowing their loving relationship. Another heartfelt scene at the end of the episode shows a confused Ellie sitting in the car for the first time, and clicking in an old cassette tape of Ronstadt’s song.
Ronstadt, who retired from the music industry several years ago, has a catalog of music that expands across several genres, including rock, folk, pop, country, and even latin music in honor of her Mexican heritage.
She released her autobiography in 2013 with Simon and Schuster, Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. She was initially misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease that same year, which was later corrected to Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Naturally, this made live performances too challenging to continue.
Now, just three years after her 2019 diagnosis, her song featured in The Last of Us has seen a massive jump in Spotfiy streams. Fans of the show are marveling at the emotional depth of the song, particularly in conjunction with episode three’s love story.
— Nick Romano (@NickARomano) January 30, 2023
The episode is being praised for its LGBTQ+ representation.
how the last of us captured the ultimate gay fantasy: spending the rest of your life eating strawberries with a bearded sissy who loves linda ronstadt ????
— alex (@alex_abads) January 30, 2023
The show’s use of the song is drawing comparisons to the summer 2022 Gen Z discovery of Kate Bush’s 1985 “Running Up That Hill” because of the Netflix hit show Stranger Things. The Last of Us joins a growing list of shows on popular streaming services to revive older music, so much to the point that they debut on the Billboard top 100.
There should be no reason why "The Last of Us" can't do for Linda Ronstadt, what "Stranger Things" did for Kate Bush.
She possessed one of the greatest voices in pop music – ever. Singing everything from rock to opera, her ability to interpret a song is unparalleled. pic.twitter.com/NvBAuaBNQb
— Liam Gareau (@liamgareau) January 30, 2023
Six months ago, Kate Bush’s song entered the top ten on the Billboard charts, which was a career first for her. Netflix’s Wednesday also bumped the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck” and Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary.”
The post-apocalyptic scenery of The Last of Us provides the perfect backdrop for the use of an older soundtrack, as many of its characters are reflecting on some of their lives’ best moments before the pandemic led to their untimely deaths.
Depeche Mode’s 1987 “Never Let Me Down Again” can also be heard in The Last of Us. The sound creaks from an old stereo in a dilapidated apartment as it soundtracks a rained out and ruined Boston. The show’s massive viewership allowed for the song to also rise on the Billboard charts for the first time in decades.
The episode has viewers “living in the memory of a love that never was,” one that they’ll remember for a long, long time.