Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice (Review)

The Linda Ronstadt movie has an audience approval rating of 99%.  After seeing the movie, I can only imagine the other 1% must have thought the problem with the movie was that it was too short.  It’s so good!

The 2013 documentary History Of The Eagles includes a scene that has some historic footage of Linda Ronstadt.  The wonder was why we hardly ever saw classic film of Ronstadt.  The new documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice finally fixes the situation.  My wife and I could have watched a lot more than was included in the 95-minute movie.

The documentary shows Ronstadt from childhood, with all the musical influences she experienced in Tucson, Arizona.  Her father sang and arranged Mexican music for public performances, and her mother sang American Standards for the pure enjoyment of it.  Linda also listened to a wide variety of music on the radio…Rock & Roll, Country & Western, and even Opera.  In the mid-sixties, she and her two brothers formed a local Folk Music trio.  It all became the foundation for one of the most diverse careers in music history.

The film includes old family photos and rare videos of her early performances.

One important moment came very early in her career when Ronstadt was appearing at The Troubadour in L.A.  It showed another beautiful brown-haired young woman performing at the same venue.  It was Emmylou Harris.  Instead of Ronstadt being jealous or looking at her as a competitor, Linda decided they should be friends.

That friendship became lifelong, and the two helped each other throughout what became stellar careers.  Similar friendships were formed with Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, and Karla Bonoff.

As her career progresses, we see so many of the top musicians she worked with, and there are enlightening interviews throughout the documentary.

Linda Ronstadt became far and away the best-selling female artist popular music had ever known.  She sold out arenas, and had 8 platinum albums in the 70’s and into the 80’s.  Then she abruptly stopped her Pop/Rock career.  Instead, she moved on to musical projects that those around her said were doomed to fail, but Ronstadt chose to follow her own instincts.

In 1983 she decided to perform in an operetta ,The Pirates Of Penzance, on Broadway.  She was nominated for a Tony Award as lead actress in a musical, and her show won Best Musical!

She recorded albums of the American Standards her mother loved, and the Mexican music her father loved.  Despite all the naysayers, the albums were multi-platinum successes!  Linda Ronstadt said she had felt compelled to record the musical influences from her childhood.

She eventually returned to mainstream music and continued winning Grammys and selling albums (11 total Grammys and 13 platinum albums during her career).  You’ll find much more career details in the article Linda Ronstadt…Queen Of Rock & Roll that’s also on this website.

By now, everyone knows that Linda Ronstadt’s singing career ended (in 2009), because she has Parkinson’s disease.  The film revealed early on that her Grandmother suffered from the same affliction.

Near the end of the movie, Linda Ronstadt (age 73 in 2019) courageously tries to sing with her brother and her nephew.  It’s sad to hear the sound of her voice has been almost completely silenced.

For all but that one scene, the movie captures Linda’s voice as it ranges from subtle beauty to amazing power.   There are hardly any studio recordings in the film, instead it’s mostly the audio of her live performances.  She successfully conveyed any musical style she chose to perform.

If you like Linda Ronstadt, the movie is a wonderful must see.  It’s playing in independent theaters now, and because CNN is one of the producers, the documentary will be airing on the network sometime in 2020.  We couldn’t wait.

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