Sunday, May 5, 2013


We watched the most amazing little documentary last night. I can't remember the last time a movie left me feeling this good -- especially a documentary! Those usually leave me in a deep, deep funk. But not this one. This time I can't stop smiling.

Imagine, if you will, a young man brought up in inner-city Detroit in the 50s and 60s. He's working construction by day, singing his poetic stories about life in this hard, hard place in local dives by night. One day in '69 or '70, a couple of record producers happen to hear him and recognize his brilliance. He's offered a record contract, and an album gets made. Happy days, right?

The only problem was, after the album was released, nothing happened. It didn't sell. It didn't get air time on the radio. He didn't get chances to tour. Zip. Nada. So he goes back to working construction, and fades into oblivion. Or so he thinks.

What no one realized was that one girl visiting the States from South Africa happened to stumble across his album. Something about it spoke to her -- caused her heartstrings to vibrate -- so she took it back to Cape Town and played it for her friends, who shared it with other friends, and so on and so on, until it ends up contributing to a revolution of sorts. Despite being banned, and not allowed air time on the government controlled radio stations, and never having played a single concert in this country, this young American whom no one knows a thing about manages to encourage a generation of young people to rise up in rebellion against apartheid and life in a police state, helping to change the face of a nation. In South Africa, it is said, the music of Rodriguez is more popular than that of Elvis or The Stones.

Back in The States, however, he hasn't a clue. In fact, rumor has it that he blew his brains out in despair when his music career flopped so profoundly. But did he really? Guess you'll have to watch the movie to find out. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a song: Sugar Man

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