In a professional career that began in the mid-sixties and ended with a final concert in 2009, Linda Ronstadt transcended genre, singing rock, country, light opera and Latin. It’s surprising to learn that Ronstadt is terribly insecure about her talents. Though she hasn’t performed in more than a decade due to Parkinson’s disease, Linda Ronstadt provides thoughtful and occasionally melancholy narration to director’s Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s overview of her life.
Music, Ronstadt explains in the film, has always been a part of her life. Living in Tucson, Arizona along the Mexican border, her family would sing Mexican songs her father taught them around the dinner table and in the car. She sang in Spanish and spoke in English.
In 1964, at 18, she followed her brother out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. She emerged onto the folk-rock scene with The Stone Poney’s, but soon producers wanted her to “get rid of the guys,” and perform on her own. That wasn’t what she had in mind. “I was a harmony singer on my own,” she says. She loved partnering with other musicians; nothing made her happier than harmonizing. Ronstadt released her first solo album, Hand Sown, Home Grown in 1969.
Though Ronstadt wasn’t a songwriter, she was a protectionist in the studio, who carefully selected the songs she performed and made them her own. She only sang what moved her, what felt authentic. Her most popular songs are often about loneliness and lost love. A slew of breathtaking performances throughout the film enforce just how mesmerizing Ronstadt is. The Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved,” the soulful “Blue Bayou.” She nails the soprano part in “Pirates of Penzance,” (and earned a Tony nomination) and sings the Sinatra standard “What’s New,” as if it were her own.
An impressive roster of interview subjects testify to the respect Ronstadt has earned from fellow musicians. Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, and Don Henley among them. Perhaps Dolly Parton says simply, “Linda could sing anything.”
Now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, the disc also offers additional interviews and a theatrical trailer.
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019)
Movie title: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
Duration: 95 min
Director(s): Rob Epstein, , Jeffrey Friedman
Actor(s): Linda Ronstadt,, Bonnie Raitt,, Dolly Parton,, Emmylou Harris,, Jackson Browne,, Don Henley
Genre: Music, Documentary, Biography