MOVIE: LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE
STARRING: LINDA RONSTADT; BONNIE RAITT; DOLLY PARTON; PETER ASHER
DIRECTED BY: ROB EPSTEIN; JEFFREY FRIEDMAN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
When natural vocal talents come along, such as Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith or Barbara Streisand, the universe has a good way of making sure the rest of the world discovers them. The same goes for Linda Ronstadt, a phenomenal singer, that still does not get the recognition that she deserves today. In Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, the grammy award winning singer is placed in the spotlight, and anyone who watches will learn to regret for not including her in the top echelon of singers. Born in Tucson, Arizona, to two immigrant parents, with mesmerizing brown eyes, a voice that will make you melt like butter, and the heart of a champion, Linda Ronstadt is a music legend. All you have to do is listen to the sound of that voice.
Earlier this year, I sang the praises of the new David Crosby documentary, which went more in-depth into the person that Crosby is, his multiple ailments, and how music keeps him going. Here is another documentary that highlights an artist, doing it on her own terms, and fueled by the music that has been a part of her since she was a little girl. Unfortunately for Ronstadt, she has been struck with the debilitating disease of Parkinson, leaving her unable to sing. That fact is laid out early on, hovering over this amazing talent, and everything else that has happened in Ronstadt's life. That's why this documentary is equal parts sad and triumphant, taking audiences down memory lane of Ronstadt's rise to fame, along with interviews with friends & family, expressing just how much this woman is loved.
The start of Ronstadt's career was when she was the lead singer of a group called Stone Poneys and bellowing out the tune “Different Drum”, a hit that was so good it helped the band get signed. Although that group did not last, Ronstadt's voice was just too good to let go, leading to her mutli-platinum career with great songs such as “You're No Good”, “Don't Know Much”, and “Blue Bayou” all songs you can hum, all songs that get stuck in your head for days. Her music was so big that she would fill massive arenas, sold out shows, and her music ranged from every genre out there. Folk, pop, rock, country, jazz classics, and traditional Mexican music. I don't know any singer that has done what Ronstadt has done.
From the technical side, directors Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman have a plethora of old videos of concert shows, appearances on The Muppet Show, or Dick Cavett interviewing her about the unique spelling of her name. What is missing, however, is a deeper dive into Rondstadt's personal life, which includes her marriage to California governor Jerry Brown, an engagement with director George Lucas, and her political activism. The personal side is delivered in interviews from her friends, Dolly Parton, producer Peter Asher, Emmylou Harris, and Bonnie Raitt, all of them inspired by Rondstadt's music and courage.
Throughout Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, the singer narrates in voiceover, because that is what it's all about. Hearing the music, the way she could sing with a hard rocking band behind her, or a string quartet, her talent was unstoppable. Epstein & Friedman end the film with a brief look at Ronstadt today, fighting every day to defeat her disease. She may have been pushed back, but you can't keep down a legend. Linda Ronstadt deserves acclaim. Go listen to her voice right now. You won't regret it.
Written by: Leo Brady