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It’s been 53 years since Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time” was released. Thanks to “The Last of Us,” the song is making a comeback.

Linda Ronstadt is back on the charts! 

The Tucson native is gaining a new generation of listeners thanks to HBO’s new series “The Last of Us.” 

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Based on the video game with the same name, “The Last of Us” is full of suspense, action, adventure, and horror (yes, all of that). In the third episode, the story takes an unexpected turn toward love and hope. 

Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here. This is all about love for Linda! 

Ronstadt’s 1970s tune “Long, Long Time” was featured as a pivotal narrative in two separate stories to the episode. As soon as the show was over, audiences rushed to hear this beautiful love song. Instantaneously the song began to spike on Spotify. The streaming service reports that on Jan. 29, between 11 p.m. and midnight, “Long, Long Time” saw a 4900% increase in US streams compared to the week prior. 

Ronstadt released “Long, Long Time” as a single from her second album, “Silk Purse.” It charted for 12 weeks, peaking at number 25, according to Billboard. It was her first single to appear on a Billboard chart.

What’s the story behind “Long, Long Time”?

Texas musician Gary White wrote the song, and it’s featured in the Rock Song Index as one of the “7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era.” 

Ronstadt wrote in her 2013 memoir, “Simple Dreams,” that she heard about the song through her friend and musician David Bromberg. White played at the Cafe Au Go-Go in New York City, and Bromberg took Ronstadt to watch him perform. According to her book, Ronstadt went backstage to meet White after the show and asked about his song. As a result, not only did Ronstadt record White’s song “Long, Long Time,” but she also recorded his song titled “Nobody’s” on her album “Silk Purse.” 

“I was prepared to be disappointed. I thought it difficult for someone to know what I looked for in a song,” Ronstadt wrote.

“We saw the last part of his very impressive show made rich with his cowboy falsetto and a song about a poignant, sad girl of a certain reputation named Louise, and then went backstage to meet Gary. He had already packed up his guitar, so he took it back out of its case, sat down, and began to sing [this song]. I told Gary I wanted to record it immediately.”

In an October 1985 interview with Esquire, Ronstadt recalled the day of the recording.

“I can remember the day I recorded ‘Long, Long Time.’ It was 10:30 in the morning, but I was really into this kind of achy feeling, because the music—it’s in these chords. I think my phrasing was horrible,” she said. “I think I kind of butchered it, but it is definitely in those chords. And it happened to the musicians, who are jaded session players. As soon as the fiddle player and Weldon Myrick, who’s the steel guitar [player], began to play those chords, they got real into that and became personally involved.”

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Craig Mazin, co-creator of the show “The Last of Us” who also wrote episode 3, said in an interview with Indiewire that he wanted a semi-obscure song that would be an “incredibly sad song about yearning for love, and never getting love, and just making your peace with the fact that you will always be alone.” 

The lyrics are pretty heartbreaking: 

“Love will abide/

Take things in stride/

Sounds like good advice/

But there’s no one at my side/

And time washes clean

Love’s wounds unseen

That’s what someone told me

But I don’t know what it means.”

[Chorus]

‘Cause I’ve done everything I know

To try and make you mine

And I think I’m gonna love you

For a long, long time.”

“I went through hours and hours and hours,” Mazin told Indiewire. “And finally, I was like, ‘I know what to do. I’m going to text my friend Seth Rudetsky,’ who is a host on Sirius XM On Broadway, and has this encyclopedic knowledge of all music,” Mazin said. “I described what I needed, and within 30 seconds, it was [incoming text noise] ‘Long, Long Time by Linda Ronstadt.’ I kinda remembered that song. I played it and was like, ‘Oh, my. There it is.'”

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