What a talent, what a voice. In this new celebratory music doc, you have two choices: You can fall in love with Linda Ronstadt all over again, or you can fall in love with her for the first time.
Linda Ronstadt is not usually mentioned off the top of your head when naming the all-time great vocalists of the past century. In "Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice," you'll rethink your position.
Now 73-years-old, Ronstadt has long since retired from performing, after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. It's the same disease that her mother suffered from, and for Linda it has left her unable to sing (although as you'll see in this doc, "unable to sing" depends on your perspective). For the majority of the film, we hear Linda narrate through the key milestones of her life and career, without really seeing her as she is today. In some ways, thinking that Linda and her voice "have left us" is the emotional pull of the film.
Maybe she's not on anyone's vocal Mount Rushmore because of the "do it her way" path she chose to take her career. She is a rock legend but also a country star. She's done opera and starred in the 1982 film adaptation of the musical, "Pirates of Penzance" opposite Kevin Kline. She's won 10 Grammy's, an Emmy, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. She's had 21 songs reach the Billboard Top 40, ten in the Top 10, three have reached number 2, and only one - her 1975 version of "You're No Good" - has topped the charts. She's lent her voice to over 120 albums and has sold more than 100 million records. Oh, and you may not know that several of those are from her mariachi albums (yes Linda does Latin music as well, and has Mexican-heritage, just one little-known fact about her that this movie uncovers).
Everyone from Cameron Crowe to Jackson Brown, to Bonnie Raitt, to Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris (Linda's singing partners in the group, "Trio") are on-hand to tell the world about the treasure that is Linda Ronstadt. And while this doc does go down some conventional roads, telling about her upbringing as a child and how she first broke into the business, Linda's story is unique in that it almost doesn't seem like her own: Her live weaves in and out of the stories of others, like The Eagles, who formed when drummer Don Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey played behind Ronstadt at one point. She got her first hit as the lead singer of the Stone Poneys, when their hit "Different Drum" reached number 12 on the charts. Her duet "Don't Know Much" with Aaron Neville broke ground in 1989 when its music video featured her and Neville intimately...at a time when you didn't see a lot of interracial interaction in popular culture.
If there's one theme throughout that is echoed by nearly everyone in this movie, it's that Linda Ronstadt "can do anything." She's proven as much, and this trip down memory lane really puts it into perspective that she's - hands down - one of the best that ever was.
Genre: Documentary, Music.
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman ("State of Pride," "Lovelace").
"Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice" opens in limited-release on Friday, September 13th, 2019.
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