Monday, January 20, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE (2019) is another in a string of interesting documentaries released by Kino Lorber.

Although my musical tastes lean most strongly toward the classic performers of the Great American Songbook (Sinatra, Fitzgerald, et al.), musicals, and '80s country, there were a handful of popular singers of the '60s and '70s I loved -- and still do -- including Karen Carpenter, John Denver, and Linda Ronstadt.

I think my earliest memory of Ronstadt is hearing "Blue Bayou" on the radio in high school. I love all the variations of Ronstadt's music in the years since, from her original melding of rock and country, to mariachi songs, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and her own renditions of music from the Great American Songbook. In the mid '80s my husband and I saw her in concert with Nelson Riddle at the Universal Amphitheatre.

THE SOUND OF MY VOICE is not just a great look at Ronstadt's career and music, it's a real nostalgia trip for a child of Southern California in the '70s, with film and stills of L.A. streets and clubs, as well as things like a glimpse of a page in the L.A. Times; an interview with former Times music critic Robert Hilburn; and footage of Linda on the Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett TV shows. It served as a multimedia visit back to that era, which I really enjoyed.

The overall focus of the documentary is on Linda's family background, the evolution of her career, and her performance of various styles of music. For the most part it steers clear of her politics and personal life, keeping the focus firmly on the music, a decision which I happily endorse; perhaps the documentary doesn't dig as deeply into Ronstadt's life as it could, but the format keeps the focus on her music and in so doing also avoids potentially divisive topics.

That said, the film does briefly address the illness which sadly has stilled her singing voice.

There are extensive music clips, many from old TV shows; there could have been even more songs I love included, but then it might have run twice the 95-minute running time!

The well-edited array of "talking heads" includes Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and many others who worked with Ronstadt over the years.

The documentary was directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Those who enjoy Linda Ronstadt's singing as much as I do are sure to enjoy this musical visit down memory lane.

Extras on the Kino Lorber Blu-ray are additional interviews, the trailer, and a gallery of trailers for other Kino Lorber releases.

This documentary has also been released on DVD.

Previous reviews of documentaries released by Kino Lorber: OBIT: LIFE ON DEADLINE (2016), HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (2015), DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME (2016), THE GODDESSES OF FOOD (2016), BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY (2017), and CHEF FLYNN (2018).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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