Blu-ray: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

STUDIO: Greenwich/Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 10, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $19.89, Blu-ray $22.98
BONUSES: additional interviews
SPECS: NR | 93 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | 5.1 Surround | English with Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2 | Audio  1/2 | Video  1/12 | Overall  1/2

Joining the recent trio of fine documentaries centering on rock icons of the Sixties and Seventies that includes Rolling Thunder Revue, Echo in the Canyon and David Crosby: Remember My Name, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice centers on the incredibly versatile vocalist who was home singing upbeat pop tunes, soulful ballads, classics from the American Songbook and music inspired by her Mexican heritage. Ronstadt’s marvelous range and diversity is brought to life in affecting fashion by Oscar and Emmy-winning documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Life and Times of Harvey Milk).

While Ronstadt’s voice is heard throughout narrating the story of her own life, she is rarely seen. Though she has been battling Parkinson’s Disease for several years, her colorful recollections and enthusiasm have remained sturdy and engaging.

Helping to tell her story–which ranges from her childhood in Arizona, her time with the Stone Poneys (who had a hit with the Michael Nesmith-penned “Different Drum”) to her incredibly prolific solo career and beyond—are former collaborators Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Don Henley of The Eagles (who was the drummer in her first touring band), Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder, record company executive David Geffen, producer Peter Asher and many others. Several performance clips of songs such as “Blue Bayou,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “You’re No Good” showcase her indelible voice and spunky style.

Filmmakers Epstein and Friedman keep things fairly straightforward, but their approach works wonderfully. Quibbles can certainly be made of omissions. There’s nary a mention of Warren Zevon, who wrote some of Ronstadt’s most revered  recordings like “Carmelita,” “Hasten Down the Wind” and “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.” Inexplicably absent is Andrew Gold, an important jack-of-all-trades contributor to such big albums as Heart Like a Wheel and Prisoner in Disguise.  And a small portion of the film that involves her love life features her relationship with California governor and presidential candidate Jerry Brown, skipping high-profile liaisons with Jim Carrey and George Lucas.

Still, there’s much to celebrate here. It’s likely those who didn’t know Ronstadt’s life story or have considered her simply as a singer who had a few hit songs a few decades ago will discover a newfound appreciation for her work.

The film, which was co-produced by James Keach (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Walk the Line), drew an impressive $3 million in the box office in a limited release pattern. The title will be a surefire purchase for Ronstadt fans and others who dig the music of the period. There is no doubt about it: Now Linda Ronstadt will be loved.

Buy or Rent Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of my Voice

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.