How Linda Ronstadt's best song got a second lease on life in HBO's 'The Last of Us'

How Linda Ronstadt's best song got a second lease on life in HBO's 'The Last of Us'

Updated: 1 month, 26 days, 17 hours, 25 minutes, 16 seconds ago

How Linda Ronstadt's best song got a second lease on life in HBO's 'The Last of Us'

Could HBO's "The Last of Us" do for Arizona music legend Linda Ronstadt's "Long, Long Time" what "Stranger Things" did for Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," introducing not only the song in question but the artist to a whole new generation of potential fans?

After it appeared in the Netflix show, Bush's song topped the charts in eight countries, including the U.K., where it stayed at No. 1 for three weeks, and Ireland, where it held on for seven consecutive weeks. It also shot to No. 3 here in the U.S. on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

Linda Ronstadt's 'Long, Long Time' was on 'The Last of Us' episode 3

A day after playing a pivotal role in episode three of HBO's "The Last of Us," Ronstadt's name was trending on Twitter and Spotify reported a 4,900% increase in U.S. streams of "Long, Long Time" in the hour just after the episode aired.

And truthfully, it couldn't happen to a better single.

When I counted down the best of Linda Ronstadt just last year, I put that song at No. 1 without the slightest hesitation.

Leaving Netflix soon:Don't miss 'Sing Street,' 'Mamma Mia!' and more leaving popular streaming services

How 'The Last of Us' used the song to underscore Bill and Frank's story

In an interview with Indie Wire, series co-creator and episode writer Craig Mazin explained how Sunday's episode — also titled "Long, Long Time" — came to use the Ronstadt song to underscore the love story of Bill, played by Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett's Frank, recalling a conversation he had with fellow writer Neil Druckmann.

"I remember saying to Neil, ‘I’m not sure what the song is, I just know that it has to be this 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. But it can’t be on the nose. And it can’t be a song that we all know.'”

So he texted a friend for advice and had his answer 30 seconds later.

As he told Indie Wire, "I played it and was like, ‘Oh, my. There it is.'”

'Different Drum':How a pop song written by one of the Monkees made Linda Ronstadt a star

Why 'Long, Long Time' is Linda Ronstadt's finest hour

"Long, Long Time" turned out to be a perfect choice on all counts.

The baroque-pop ballad opens with dramatic strings, pulling back to reveal an acoustic guitar and Ronstadt exercising pure restraint with a vulnerable reading of "Love will abide, take things in stride" before letting the full power of her voice be felt on "Sounds like good advice but there's no one at my side."

The strings return for an instrumental break coming out of the chorus and stay to underscore her vocal on much of what follows as she taps into the desperation of the situation on that final chorus hook: "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."

Released in 1970, the single peaked at No. 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, earning Ronstadt her first Grammy nomination in the bargain.

Just don't be surprised if it soon has a higher peak on the Hot 100.

Canciones de Mi Padre:How Linda Ronstadt fought — and won — a battle to release an album in Spanish