What You Need To Know:
THE SOUND OF MY VOICE includes first-hand accounts from many famous artists, music producers and directors who were part of Ronstadt’s story from the very beginning. Learning about her incredible influence on the music industry, as well as seeing her talent up close, takes viewers on an emotional, entertaining journey. The movie is mainly about pursuing personal dreams, so it has a strong Romantic worldview. It also has some drug references, brief foul language and other very objectionable content. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE.
LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE is a documentary about the popular singer from the late 1960s and 1970s. The movie begins with Linda talking about growing up in Tucson, Arizona as a child. Being partly from a Mexican heritage, she grew up with all sorts of music in her house. Her grandparents listened to the opera, her father sang mariachi songs, her sister loved country music, and her mother was all about Frank Sinatra and the classics. Her grandfather also was an inventor, who created the electric oven, the electric toaster, and then used everything he earned to try to find a cure for his wife, who had Parkinson’s Disease. While growing up, her family was constantly singing together. She and her siblings would harmonize while doing the dishes, or sitting at the table for dinner. When they were grown up, her brother decided to move to Los Angeles to try to play at more venues and convinced Linda to come along.
In her early twenties, Linda moved to Santa Monica, where she lived right on the beach and split $80 rent with two other people. She quickly was able to begin to sing with a band called the Stone Poneys, and their song “Different Drum” became a hit in 1967. Then, Linda had released two albums in 1969 and 1970, so, when she was scheduled to begin going on the road, she needed a band. While seeing a show where the band covered a song of hers, she noticed the drummer and thought he was really good. His name was Don Henley. Not long after, Don and her friend, Glenn Frey, began to make music together, forming the Eagles. Their first album had three big hits, but their second album, DESPERADO, a concept album about the Old West, had little success right off the bat, and their label wasn’t quite sure what to do with it until Linda covered the title song, which was a huge hit for Linda.
Thus, by the early 1970s, Linda was becoming more and more well-known and equally loved, opening for Neil Young on his tour. Around this time, she was able to meet some other female singers who were very talented and was able to collaborate with them. She had to decide whether she was going to be jealous of these other talented and beautiful singers, or become a huge fan like everyone else, and convince them to work with her. She chose the latter, singing on stage with many successful women. After years of working, she began to sell out arena stadiums, knocking down the house with every performance.
However, Linda was a restless artist, and when she found something she loved, she had to do it, had to sing it. In 1981, she got the chance to sing operetta in a new production of the Gilbert & Sullivan musical, PIRATES OF PENZANCE, in New York and trained relentlessly to perform the high notes. (Eventually, the Golden Globes nominated her for playing in the movie version of the operetta.) Not long after her New York performances for the operetta, she was reminded of the love she had for Frank Sinatra, Etta James and Ella Fiztgerald. Her producers thought that she was crazy, but she recorded an album filled with their songs and was a smashing success. Soon, she was introduced to the magical voice of Dolly Parton and partnered with her and Emmylou Harris for a 1987 country album, performing these songs together all over the country. Their album won a Grammy Award and produced four top ten country singles and one top ten pop hit.
In true Linda Ronstadt fashion, she then approached her producers with the idea of a mariachi album. Because of her father and their Mexican heritage, she knew these ballads by heart, and her album became the highest selling mariachi album of all time.
This documentary takes the audience through a career that influenced countless musical artists throughout many years. It’s apparent that, when Linda sang, a tiny beam of light touched everyone who heard her. Through interviews with people like Dolly Parton, Cameron Crowe, Don Henley, and many more, the audience can see what a talent this woman had, and that she didn’t accept any limits that other people tried to put around her.
Around the time when she won two Grammys for a partnership with R&B star Aaron Neville, Ronstadt began to notice that something was wrong with her voice. She didn’t have the same control she used to have and, sadly, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. However, her powerful singing lives on through many, many records, and even more in the hearts of her fans.
THE SOUND OF MY VOICE is well done. It includes first-hand accounts from many famous artists, music producers and directors who were part of Ronstadt’s story from the very beginning. Learning about her incredible influence on the music industry, as well as seeing her talent up close, takes viewers on an emotional, entertaining journey. That said, the movie mainly follows a strong Romantic worldview, with the movie’s driving force being the artistic expression of music and song. The documentary also has some feminist elements. Many of the women interviewed, as well as archive footage of Linda Ronstadt’s career, tells how unfair the music industry could be to women. Also, Gram Parsons, the founders of the country rock musical style popularized by Ronstadt and the Eagles, is mentioned as having died from a heroin overdose, and there are some other drug references throughout the movie as well. At one point in the movie, Ronstadt talks about how it’s better not to get legally married. Finally, the movie has a few obscenities and profanities. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE.