Someone has to be the trailblazer…
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice is a strong entry into the music documentary canon and shows what a quiet trailblazer she really was at this stage in the music business and how she blazed a path for so many artists after her.
Linda Ronstadt is our guide through her early years of singing Mexican canciones with her family; her folk days with the Stone Poneys; and her reign as the “rock queen” of the ‘70s and early ’80s. She was a pioneer for women in the male-dominated music industry; a passionate advocate for human rights, and had a high-profile romance with California Governor Jerry Brown. Ultimately, her singing voice was stilled by illness and forced her into retirement but her music and influence remain as timeless as ever.
While it all ultimately plays a little too affectionately towards its subject, it’s hard to deny that Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice is a fantastically clear cut ode to the artistry and inspiration that she was for so many people. While her singing voice may now have been taken by Parkinson’s she reminds us that her powerhouse of a voice still rings loudly and proudly.
Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman who have given us some powerhouse docs in the past like The Celluloid Closet & The Times of Harvey Milk have given us something that is still equally important but manages to be delightfully effortless from beginning to the end of it all.
Ronstadt while only appearing on screening very minimally does provide some voice over and we get such a truly humble glimpse at a multi-faceted artist who knew her self incredibly well.
The film tracks the musical history of Ronstadt and everyone who crossed her path in one way or another including the likes of Glenn Frey & Don Henley who would go on to form ‘The Eagles’, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Sure the general purpose of the overall narrative of the film is to gush about Ronstadt, but the filmmakers take such exquisite care in making sure that it is all 100% earned through the archival material and the rich musical history that Ronstadt not only came from with her Mexican heritage but also with the music that she’s left behind for other female singer/songwriters to build off of and have the necessary confidence in their own artistry in order to succeed.
It’s hardly a ‘hard-hitting’ affair, but especially towards the end of the film when we see Ronstadt struggle through a song due to her Parkinson’s we see how Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice is something that needs to be listened to for generations.