Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

8.11 h 33 min2019PG-13
A musical biography of one of the most successful female singers - and one of the most successful recording artists - of all time. Featuring Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and more.
Rob EpsteinJeffrey Friedman
Dolly PartonDon HenleyEmmylou Harris
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Jackson BrowneBonnie RaittAaron Neville
Rob EpsteinJeffrey FriedmanJames KeachMichele Farinola
Greenwich Entertainment
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.8 out of 5 stars

5617 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Paul AllaerReviewed in the United States on September 15, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A welcome reminder of and tribute to Linda Ronstadt's musical life and times
"Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice" (2019 release; 95 min.) is a documentary about Linda Ronstadt's remarkable trajectory in the music business. As the movie opens, we see her at the peak of her commercial success, performing "You're No Good" in concert as we are reminded the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of just many accomplishments. We then go briefly to today's "Banamichi, Mexico", where we see Linda catching a local show. The film then goes back in time to how her parents met in Tuscon (her dad was Mexican, even if "Ronstadt" doesn't sound Mexican), and how Linda and her siblings grew up surrounded by music (her dad sings the Mexican traditionals, while her mom was more into Sullivan & Gilbert). Interested in music, no wonder then that Linda and a friend started a band, but quickly ran out of challenges in remote Tuscon. It is 1964 and Linda, then just 18, relocates to southern California. At this point we are 10 min, into the documentary.

Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from Oscar-winning co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman ("The Times of Harvey Milk"). Here they examine the music career of Linda Ronstadt. Typically these rockumentaries are best in the first half or first third, as we examine the roots and early successes of an artist. It is remarkable that in this case, the reverse is true: the first half of this documentary recaps Linda's "country and rock" phase (up to the early 80s), until Linda decides that she is tried of doing the same songs over and over again, and decides to make a complete break, starting with the "Pirates of Penzance" opera and then the first of the Nelson Riddle albums (doing songs she finds in her mother's album collection). On on and on it went, taking left turns upon left turns (and I don't mean her politics). Along the way, the film makers interview all of the "big names" in the music industry, but in the end it's all about Linda and her voice (sadly she lost her singing range due to Parkinson's a decade ago). This film is a wonderful reminder and tribute to someone who had the courage and urge to go her own way in the music business, and then did it.

"Linda Ronstadt: The Sounds of My Voice" premiered at this year's Tribeca film festival to good acclaim. This weekend it opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati and I couldn't wait to see it. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended just okay (8 people in total). If you are a fan of music history or simply a Linda Ronstadt fan, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
162 people found this helpful
Erik NorthReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Desert Angel
She was born into a prosperous family of mixed Mexican and German heritage in the extreme heat of the Sonoran Desert in Tucson, Arizona in 1946. She left her home for Los Angeles at the end of 1964 to follow her dreams of being a singer. And from her official debut in 1967 to her final live concert in the fall of 2009, she became one of the most respected, loved, and appreciated figures in American popular music history. She is Linda Ronstadt. And although her already-lengthy career was abruptly ended by a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2013 that crippled her voice, she had already achieved far more than she ever dreamed possible, while still being modest and forever plagued with self-doubts about just how great a singer she truly was. This great life is laid out in the heartfelt documentary film LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE.

Bracketed by a visit she made in early 2019 to her family’s ancestral home of Banamichi, a four-hour drive across the border into the state of Sonora in northern Mexico, THE SOUND OF MY VOICE charts all the myriad musical influences inside her family and through her love of the radio that sparked the desire in Linda to be a singer. She narrates a fair amount of the film in her own low-key, modest fashion as to what she encountered in her first few years in the music business, including her appreciation of The Doors as a band (but not their lead singer Jim Morrison); how she needed a band for a 1971 tour, resulting in the birth of the Eagles; and then the monstrous breakthrough she had at the mid-point of the 1970s with “You’re No Good”. Alongside dozens of clips of interviews that Linda gave over the decades, there are also interviews with the many friends and colleagues she associated with, including long-time producers John Boylan and Peter Asher; singer-songwriters J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff, and Jackson Browne; record mogul David Geffen; Joe Smith, president of Elektra/Asylum records during Linda’s peak years of the 70s and 80s; and music critics/friends Cameron Crowe (of JERRY MAGUIRE and ALMOST FAMOUS fame) and the L.A. Times’ Robert Hillburn, plus a sizeable amount of concert footage to boot. All of them discuss the impact that Linda made on the music business and more than a few of their lives as well. And they also talk about how, after conquering the once male-dominated arenas of rock and pop, she branched out to explore other equally valid styles: opera (“The Pirates Of Penzance”); American pop standards (WHAT’S NEW?), the Mexican mariachi/ranchera music of her father’s heritage (CANCIONES DE MI PADRE), and many others, all of which put a lot of terror into her handlers and her producers, who feared how such diversions would derail her career. Those were risks that she was willing to take at a time of safety-first in the record industry, though she did acknowledge that they were risks; but she also felt that playing in big arenas and stadiums, though they made her tons of money, were absolutely not conducive to good music making, either for her or her fans (and indeed they weren’t).

Linda’s career was not without political controversy; but most of that is shunted aside for her music (notably there is no mention of the 2004 firestorm she created be advocating Michael Moore’s film FAHRENHEIT 9/11 onstage at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, and only a few minutes on her relationship with California governor Jerry Brown). However, there is a telling interview she gave to an Australian talk show host in 1983 with respect to her then-controversial decision to tour apartheid-ridden South Africa, and her astonishment as to how other aspects of her political beliefs (especially her disdain for nuclear power and then-president Reagan) could possibly be controversial. The great ride, of course, slowed down when her voice started faltering after the turn of the millennium, though the career-ending diagnosis wasn’t made official until 2013. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freedman (THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK), however, don’t dwell extraneously on this tragic aspect of Linda’s life, only showing that it was there. And as Linda says near the end, she had a wonderful life, and she still intends to live out her life the way she had always done: with a lot of heart and stoicism.

While seemingly short at slightly under 100 minutes, LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE is an absolutely brilliant, uplifting pop music documentary on a woman who defied the historical sexism of the music business and became a shining light for future female artists to follow. Linda Ronstadt is an American treasure, and this movie officially seals that deal for all time.

P.S.: This film is more than worthy for an actual physical DVD release; and I hope it gets released in that form.
138 people found this helpful
Jonathan D. WallachReviewed in the United States on December 3, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Reminds us who really was the greatest female vocalist in history.
Verified purchase
I was a big fan but like most I lost track of her after the 80s. I always thought she had a great voice but I believed there were others that followed who were just as good, or so I thought. This documentary sets the record straight. She had the greatest voice in popular music history bar nobody, almost operatic in scope (if not in range). Her voice was so good, there is almost nobody worthy of second place. The sheer power coupled with the beauty of her sound and her singing are unique in pop music history. I knew she could no longer sing. However, when that point comes in the movie after listening to what can only be called vocal miracles for 90 minutes, I wept.
78 people found this helpful
D. S. RipleyReviewed in the United States on September 15, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A stunning portrait of a voice now in stillness and a mind in motion
There is so much to love about this film. It's not just a comprehensive look at her amazing talent (with some jaw-dropping performance video), her laser-like musical focus and intuition or her brilliant collaborations, though it's all that. Many of her collaborators help to tell her story, and their voices are so rich and warm in conveying the humanness of this musical genius. It may be the best documentary about a living person I've ever seen. I cried, but not only for the loss of that astounding instrument. There is space for joy, too. And the last few minutes are surprising and transcendent. Do yourselves a favor and see this if you're interested in how popular music became what it is today, and how the idea of stardom for women in the world of music was changed by a single unbelievable woman. Or if you just want to see and hear someone sing like nobody sang before her, and nobody will again.
97 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
The best female singer ever
Fabulous documentary with great commentary by Linda and others. Great concert footage and a real treat at the end. A must have for all Linda fans
80 people found this helpful
KalakalaReviewed in the United States on December 11, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the BEST music movies EVER!
Verified purchase
I rarely write reviews. I'm a musician and an overall music nut, have been for 50 years. If you can name them in the 70's, chances are I've seen them live. I own hundreds of concert and music DVD's. This one is right there in my Top 5 of all time. The mid-60's in Southern California was a collision of country, folk and rock and bred a genre all it's own. Linda Ronstadt was right in the middle of the scene, and had the good fortune of being around the best of the best when it came to musicians. This is not only a great movie that chronicles Linda, but in really get's into the music of those times in SoCal. What a set of pipes. There wasn't ANYTHING she couldn't sing, including opera. This is a must-have for any music lover. Get it.
19 people found this helpful
Taffey LewisReviewed in the United States on December 11, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fate is so cruel
Verified purchase
It is so sadly ironic that one of the greatest singers of my generation has been silenced in such a cruel and senseless manner. To see Linda Ronstadt accept her fate with such grace is a credit to her as a person, not just a great singer.

This documentary helped me to appreciate her above and beyond the incredible music she made for decades. To see and hear her go from folk to rock to pop to country to light opera to torch songs to traditional Mexican music was truly amazing. It is so sad that she can no longer perform at the incredibly high level she attained, but she has already given us so much. If only there could have been a happier ending for her and for us.

Linda Ronstadt is an American treasure.
17 people found this helpful
LolaReviewed in the United States on December 17, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
American History
Verified purchase
Linda Rondstadt: The Sound of My Voice - what an honor it was to have grown up with that voice. I wasn't a huge fan, just liked her music when it came on the radio. This documentary reminds us that she was a major part of American music history.
Her radio friendly music definitely is part of the 70s and 80s soundtrack of popular music. As I get thru this film and become sentimental as her main songs are discussed, I realize that as popular she was as a rock/pop/country star, the first album I ever bought of hers was What's New, w/ Nelson Riddle.
They hit the nail on the head when comparing her popularity to Beyonce. Except, Rondstadt reached such a wider audience with all the different genres she succeeded in. I remember how it seemed everything she recorded became HUGE! I distinctly remember how Canciones de Mi Padre was massively popular.
While the film touches on her personal life, I actually love how it doesn't take us too far inside. Just enough to make the connections. I've known for a while that she now has Parkinson's. I can only imagine what a loss it is to her to lose her beautiful gift of song, although she seems to still have a little magic in there that we get to see at the end.
This documentary was incredibly entertaining. I rented it, but may end up purchasing it, as I actually want to watch it again.
10 people found this helpful
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