Saturday, June 8, 2013


I missed this documentary when it came out last year, though everyone I knew who saw it urged me to get to it. I read reviews and articles about the story so knew what to expect, I thought, when I finally caught it on cable tonight. A singer-songwriter from the late 1960s and early 1970s who called himself simply Rodriguez, and whose records never sold, went back to the life of basically a day laborer, hard manual work, to support his three daughters, unaware that meanwhile his records have made him more popular, famous, and adored in South Africa—and a few other African countries as well as Australia and New Zealand—than Elvis, Dylan, and The Rolling Stones!

But I still wasn't prepared, obviously, as the story, especially the testimony of his daughters and co-workers, let alone the South African fans who searched for some closure to this revered figure who was thought to have died and discovered him alive and unhonored in his own country, because I shed more than a few tears watching it. Not because of the rediscovery of, and appreciation for, his musical importance, but because of his amazingly humble and deeply profound commitment to live a simple life of service to others.

Saintly figures are not entirely unusual in the music business—Eric Dolphy and Coltrane in his later years are two examples—but rarely do they disappear into "obscurity" (in quotes because that's only from the music public's point of view not the reality of the importance of each of us to the people who know and care about us) to be rediscovered decades later and have an Oscar winning documentary made about them.


Bob said...

I had never heard of Rodriquez nor this documentary but it sounded interesting. It turns out the local public library had a copy and I just finished watching it.

Wow. What an amazing, moving and touching story, and an admirable and inspiring guy, as well as others in the film.

Thanks for bringing attention to this documentary which was a rich, rich experience. Anyone who doesn't get teary-eyed has a rock for a heart.

Bob Phillips

Lally said...

Glad you dug it Bob.