Posts Tagged ‘“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”’

Linda Ronstadt then


95 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

This seems to be the season for music documentaries (“Echo in the Canyon,” “David Crosby: Remember My Name”) but the hands-down winner when it comes to pure musical pleasure is “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,” which will send you away convinced that its subject was the greatest pop female vocalist of all time.

Ron Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film is covers Ronstadt’s life in straightforward fashion, beginning with her grandparents (her father’s people hailed from Mexico despite the Germanic-sounding name), her childhood in Tucson with a musical family, her move to LA as an 18-year-old, her brief stint as lead singer with the Stone Ponies…and then 30-some years of recording and performing greatness.

Ronstadt narrates the film — we don’t see her as she appears today until the very end — but the story is told from a variety of perspectives:  her fellow musicians (Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Rhy Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris), her producers and managers (David Geffen, Peter Asher), her one-time lover J.D.Souther and journalists who covered her (Cameron Crowe, Robert Hilburn).

This is the story of an immensely talented woman who often doubted her own abilities, yet nevertheless challenged herself to new heights…not only in pop fame but on Broadway (starring in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”), as a purveyor of Sintra-ish torch songs (arranged by Nelson Riddle, no less), in a country trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, and with traditional Mexican musicians (Ronstadt’s is the best-selling trad Mexican LP of all time).

Along the way she established an image (not that it was in any way calculated) as a playful, sexy, smart woman who went her own way.  She was a matter-of-fact feminist; no stridency, just effectiveness. (One source says that in her prime Rondstadt was “the Queen…like Beyonce is now.”)


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