Back to IndieWire

Linda Ronstadt Won’t Make Any Money from ‘Last of Us’ Streaming Spike for ‘Long Long Time’

"It wasn’t a country song, wasn’t a folk song, or a rock song," Ronstadt said of her genre-defying ballad, "but I thought it was a really good song." 

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in "The Last of Us"

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in “The Last of Us”

Liane Hentscher/HBO

It has been a long, long time since Linda Ronstadt sold the rights to her streaming catalog.

The singer reacted to the viral sequence in HBO’s “The Last of Us” featuring her 1970 ballad “Long Long Time.” The song jumped 4,900 percent on Spotify within an hour of the episode airing January 29 and rose to 149,000 percent the following day. The song is featured three separate times in the episode, including actors Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett playing the track on a piano. “Long Long Time” is also the title of the episode.

“I don’t follow social media or streaming services very closely,” Ronstadt told Billboard, citing that she never owned the master of “Long Long Time” written by Gary White. “I still love the song and I’m very glad that Gary will get a windfall.”

Ronstadt remembered, “I met Gary through guitarist David Bromberg, who took me to the Café Au Go Go in Greenwich Village to see Gary performing with [the late singer-songwriter] Paul Siebel. After the show, Gary played me ‘Long Long Time’ and I immediately wanted to record it. It wasn’t a country song, wasn’t a folk song, or a rock song, but I thought it was a really good song.”

In March 2021, Ronstadt sold her recorded-music assets, including royalty streams from her master recordings and ownership of some masters, to Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artist Group.

Ronstadt’s manager John Boylan added, “She’s not unhappy about it, believe me. We sold her catalog. The last four or five years have been a complete tsunami of buyouts like this.”

Episode writer-director Craig Mazin told IndieWire that he wanted to structure Episode 3 around a pivotal musical motif: “I had the thought that this would happen, that there was a song that would be played, and that we would be surprised by who was good at it and who was bad at it. 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.’”

Mazin got help from a trusted source to figure out what song they should use: “I went through hours and hours and hours. 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.’”

Ronstadt is set to be behind an upcoming biopic with James Keach who produced her 2019 documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”

“Long Long Time” isn’t the first throwback song to go viral from a streaming series. Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” shattered streaming sites after the song was featured in a pivotal “Stranger Things” scene in 2022.


Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox