DIRECTED BY ROB EPSTEIN, JEFFREY FRIEDMAN/2019
There’s been a veritable flood of music documentaries released this summer – I’ve caught trailers for David Crosby: Remember My Name, Pavarotti and Wu-Tang: An American Saga all in the last month. And Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice may look just like another documentary about a brilliant musician among the bushel of brilliant musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960’s and 70’s, but it feels more like Love, Gilda, a documentary from last year about comedy maverick Gilda Radner.
Like Radner, Linda Ronstadt worked in an industry driven and mostly populated by men – men who often found their existence so heavy that they abused their bodies to lighten the load. In an interview from Ronstadt’s touring days she describes the kind of alienation and anxiety that leads artists to isolate and antagonize themselves as “silly” and intertwined with a uniquely male hostility towards themselves and others. Though I can’t agree that this kind of hostility is necessarily male I do think Ronstadt’s triumph over it is a victory to be celebrated even if she never admits to battling it herself.
The documentary, in theatres Friday, charts Linda’s life from her childhood in Tucson, AZ. to her induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and her current battle with Parkinson’s. The biographical film is narrated by Ronstadt herself and filled with interviews from her partners and professional friends, stitched together with family photographs, television footage and press pictures. It’s a pretty standard biographical documentary but it’s subject and her legacy are far from average.