It’s so easy to acknowledge the joys and heart in this Linda Ronstadt doc.
Linda Ronstadt has fought against her own cynicisms, and became a music icon. She was a bit reluctant about singing in front of big crowds of fans and working with big time singers; but she had all the material and voice to make it this far.
The documentary, “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,” delves into her music career, starting with her childhood and ending with her Parkinson’s disease, which affected her once dazzling singing abilities. As a music doc, it isn’t as emotionally impactful as the currently entertaining “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” but I does teach us her roots and treks in her life.
It shows us her Mexican side (also part English and German), when, in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, she fell in love with Mexican music. Especially her late father Gilberto, who sang her some beautiful, peaceful tunes. Of course, she would get in trouble if she sang the Spanish lyrics in her school, but the film doesn’t get into that. That’s the least of our troubles.
In her music career, she started off singing with some of her siblings, until they went their separate ways. And as she keep charging along, she joined forces with the likes of Stone Ponies, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, and Aaron Neville, among others. Let’s face it: she’s very popular with musicians young and old, invisible or famous.
We also have manager Peter Asher, who discovered her talents after the Beatles’ separation, and uses his previous experiences to expand her horizons. He, too, sees a gift in her.
The movie doesn’t really give much drama, but there are elements in her life that it discusses. At one point, she had pills to keep her going; when she lost her mother, she decided to follow the works of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Louis Armstrong; and was able to prove to herself and others that women are capable of anything.
“The Sound of My Voice,” directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, has enough inspiration to keep fans afloat. It meets almost all the characters in Linda’s life without them being used as marketing billing (like Cameron Crowe or Kevin Kline). It also acknowledges how her taste in music was eclectic, with country, rock, and traditional Mexican music being in her genre. What a respectful way to respect cultures. And I love the archival footage with her performing with mariachi bands. That looks fun.
We see Linda Ronstadt as a beautiful person with more than just lyrics and melody in her heart, but an inspiration for others. She maybe retired today, because of her Parkinson’s disease, but her music will never cease to make her fans dance with joy and serenity.
As a young film critic, I’ve been interested in seeing these music docs, following the success of “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story” and “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” I wasn’t born during those years, but I am fascinated to learn about the lives of such great musicians. “The Sound of My Voice” has just joined this group.