November 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
I recently saw the documentary film Searching For Sugar Man, the story of a couple of South Africans trying to unravel the mysterious life of the musician known as Rodriguez. I must admit I was blown away by it. It resonated so clearly with my own experience of growing up in Rhodesia and South Africa.
It also evoked an emotional response to the man himself. Seemingly without any regrets for his ‘lost’ career or any desire to head for the nearest legal aid offices to begin a suit for the recovery of missing royalties. Still living the humble life of a construction worker and seemingly with no desire to use his new found fame to upgrade to a pop star lifestyle.
He also raised three daughters, imbuing them with a similar humbleness, but ensuring that they grew up understanding that they were not victims of their circumstances and that they were as good as anyone born into grander circumstances. He comes across as the epitome of a decent human being the sort of person most of us would aspire to be. Rich and happy in a way that money cannot buy.
After watching the movie I wanted more information and did a little bit of Google surfing. I came across two interesting articles, one by a UK movie critic and one by an Australian movie critic. Both articles, while generally admiring the movie, hinted that the Danish film maker had acted a little dishonesty in portraying Rodriguez as living in the musical wilderness despite ‘being more famous than Elvis’ in South Africa as he had achieved a modicum of success in Australia and New Zealand where he toured in the 70s and 80s.
i don’t find a problem with this. His Antipodean success was modest and did not make the premise of the movie – failed American muso is oblivious to his iconic status in SA – any less honest. The isolation of the Apartheid era ensured that the SA fans were as oblivious to his fleeting fame Down Under as they were to his life as a construction worker in Detroit.
It must be surreal for Rodriguez to be experiencing this resurgence in fame not only in SA and Down Under, but in his native America who is discovering him at last. If you have not seen the movie I can thoroughly recommend that you do. If you have seen the movie, but would like to know more, sugarman.org is a good start.
‘Til next post…