I finally got around to watching the Lind Ronstadt documentary, The Sound of My Voice, on CNN last night. Just to let you know how much I adore Linda, I first heard her voice way back in 1971 when I bought the album by the Stone Poneys, the band’s record that featured their Top 40 hit, “Different Drum.” I was blown away by this girl’s voice a long time before I ever saw a picture of her in a magazine or on TV. Of course, after I did see her, I was head-over-heels in love. She had the most beautiful doe-like eyes, and those lips! Drop-dead gorgeous. The first time I heard her speak during an interview, her California girl accent just drew me in even more.
As the seventies ran on, I would buy every album she recorded, watching as she proved to the world that she could sing any kind of song, from country to rock to big band to Broadway to Mexican folk music. I virtually wore out my copy of Heart Like a Wheel and several others like Hasten Down the Wind. I would sit up until 1 a.m. to watch her on The Midnight Special and I still recall her being a guest on The Johnny Cash Show on TV. When I heard that there was a movie called FM coming out and she was in it, I showed up on opening day. My buddy Bill and I sat through the movie twice just to see her concert footage where she rocked “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and the Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.”
The Sound of My Voice is an excellent look at Linda’s career, her romances with JD Souther and Jerry Brown, and working friendships with The Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Jackson Browne and others. There is plenty of performance footage and interviews to help tell her story. We hear portions of many of her huge Platinum hits like “When Will I Be Loved,” “You’re No Good,” “Get Closer,” “Long Long Time,” “Blue Bayou,” “Different Drum,” and many others.
The end of the film details Linda’s contracting of Parkinson’s disease, which caused her to lose her singing voice. I cannot begin to imagine what it was like for someone whose entire life was singing to suddenly lose her voice. But Linda is one tough lady. She has somehow managed to deal with the loss with style and grace, and we are all the richer for the many, many great recordings and videos that remain to remind us of just how great she was. One of the very best singers of our generation.
-Michael Buffalo Smith