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The Last Of Us Just Gave Linda Ronstadt A Huge Boost On Spotify, And EP Explained Why Her Song Was Right For The Show

 Bill sitting at piano in The Last of Us
Bill sitting at piano in The Last of Us

Warning: light spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 3, “Long Long Time,” are in play. If you haven’t seen this episode just yet, you’ve been warned. 

A perfect song can fit in any moment, given the proper context. Anyone with an HBO Max subscription likely found that out in heartbreaking fashion thanks to The Last of Us' third episode, which utilized LInda Ronstadt’s classic track “Long Long Time” as an important emotional touchstone. (And its title.) While EP Craig Mazin had to go on a bit of a hunt to find this appropriate needle drop for this latest chapter, his efforts were just as rewarding as the alterations to Bill and Frank’s story. It also gave Ms. Ronstadt one hell of a streaming hit, as almost immediately the song found a new lease on life, just as it had in the installment's poignant ending.

Bill and Frank in The Last of Us.
Bill and Frank in The Last of Us.

The Last Of Us’ Insane Streaming Boost For Linda Ronstadt’s Long Long Time

According to Spotify News, The Last of Us bump is now something all musical artists should consider looking into, as this particular tune from 1970 increased its profile on the service by 4900%. Wildly enough, that figure came from between the hours of 11 PM and 12 AM ET on Sunday night into Monday morning.

This means that this huge boost occurred in the timeframe where the nearly feature-length love story featuring Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett was wrapping for those watching in real time. So it stands to reason that fans of the Naughty Dog/Sony co-production were eager to cry things out after watching.

The news certainly wasn’t lost on Linda Ronstadt herself, as she made this most recent post honoring the song on social media:

A pivotal moment in The Last Of Us's romantic epic, the song's introduction sees Murray Bartlett's Frank rooting around the house of Nick Offerman's Bill. Particularly taken by the piano, the guest-turned-partner finds a Linda Ronstadt songbook, and selects "Long Long Time" as his choice. Through Frank's butchery and Bill's heartfelt crooning of the same song, the lovers find each other on the road to decades of ups and downs.

Much like Stranger Things put Kate Bush on the charts with its usage of “Running Up That Hill,” another television hit maker has brought a classic back into the limelight. Which is a moment that wouldn’t have happened, if it wasn’t for The Last of Us executive producer Craig Mazin consulting a trusted friend.

Bill and Frank with Tess and Joel in The Last of Us.
Bill and Frank with Tess and Joel in The Last of Us.

Why Long Long Time Was The Right Choice For Bill And Frank, According To Craig Mazin

Believe it or not, "Long Long Time" wasn't a baked in song choice that was always meant to be. Mazin admitted as much during an interview with IndieWire. which started with the purpose of why including this special musical cue was so important, and some of the criteria he had in mind during selection:

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.

It's going to be hard not to think of this episode when its namesake plays randomly, or by request, in the near future. Doubling as a send off to Bill and Frank's memory after their deaths, as well as as signpost in the developing partnership of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), the emotions ran pretty high at the end of the new corner they've turned.

Should you want to thank anyone in particular for giving Craig Mazin this Last of Us moment, it's none other than Sirius XM host/Broadway maven Seth Rudetsky. The explanation for how the pair of friends hammered this story home through song was told by Mazin thusly:

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. 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.'

If we're going by the radio code established in The Last of Us' critically acclaimed premiere, then it would appear that this episode had "new stock" for fans. Which isn't false, as the bittersweet romance of Bill and Frank replenished everyone's hearts while also draining their tear ducts. It's a story that's going to be hard to top, as both a Linda Ronstadt classic and a new queer love story for the ages have both been born out of this decision process.

Keeping up with The Last of Us isn't too hard, no matter if you're into horror or not, as the first three episodes are ready to stream on HBO Max. New adventures with Joel and Ellie will continue to premiere on HBO, Sundays at 9 PM ET, right up until the season finale on March 12th. As always, you should keep your eyes on the 2023 TV schedule, whenever you're not on the look out for Clickers in your area.