So I finally watched Searching for Sugar Man.
Right now its Chinese New year or spring festival whatever you prefer and so the entire country is on holiday pretty much, which means I get to go home for the first time in 8 months.
This means an hour taxi to the airport, two hour wait in the emirates lounge, 10 hour flight to Dubai, another 3 hours in the Emirates lounge, another 8 hour flight and then another hour drive, all a tiny price to pay to see my friends and family again.
The truth is I get to drink champagne and decent wine for 24 hours while watching movies on a bed drifting in and out of sleep – it’s truly fantastic compared to what I would be doing any other day of the working year!
So after the first 10 hours of watching meaningless crap movies which I can barely remember or maybe I’m just trying to forget Richard Gear clinging to his acting career, Ben Affleck playing some glorified American, Steve Carrell dying in an earth ending asteroid with Kristen Stewart, I mean Kiera Knightly, and Jennifer Garner barren again (albeit this time far more annoyingly than the first with Juno) I saw ‘Searching for Sugar Man’
I had seen so much noise about it on twitter but for some reason I thought that it was another battle of drugs and hard knocked life story of some overrated over privileged musical superstar that I’ve grown numb to and the fact that it’s not exactly freely available behind the iron dumpling curtain made it impossible to see until now.
The truth is I was being stubborn – I’m a Taurean so not exactly out of character. So between the 5th and 8th glass of decent burgundy I watched Rodriguez’s story.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’d seen that Cold Fact album cover a hundred times in various CD collections of my much older brothers, I had just assumed he had lived a life of music royalty. When you are a kid the world is much simpler, especially a kid in third world apartheid, or newly liberated South Africa. If you made a CD, let alone a CD of that quality, you were famous, you were rich and that was the end of it.
I guess so many of us believe we are destined for something great, I thought I was the only one until I read that 85% of all people think that, I didn’t feel so great after that. I suppose all of us fantasize that in some place half way around the world they understand our genius and praise us not for anything other than our ability to connect with them on some level.
This man’s music has been one of the default songs when my brain thinks about music for so long I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t one of music’s golden children, one that was adored in every city on every stage in every country. I truly believed that by the way his music had become such a household standard that he was given the credit that he deserved for as long as I was alive and so really didn’t give it another thought!
When I saw the clips of him returning to South Africa in 1998 to an audience that had believed they had lost an icon, and that base started to play, the base that instinctively started a generation singing the same song much like the Beatles or the Stones, I started to cry. I’m not sure why it impacted me so heavily, maybe it’s because I think that I was so happy that he finally got the recognition that he deserved, maybe because the people got to connect in that moment with an artist who defined their first love, first intimate relationship, first joint, first whatever but a man who completed moments for so many South Africans. Maybe I was just happy that these two great forces got to connect with each other finally after so many years.
To see this man that had lived a life of relative poverty for most of his life to at least get a glimpse of the power his music had on a generation of people he probably didn’t even know existed, took my breath away. It made me believe in the magic of great music all over again. The magic of people, the hope of stories with happy endings and the ability to be great regardless of who you think is lestening.
If you haven’t seen it, you are allowing a part of South African and global music history that will make your heart smile, cry, break and come together all at the same time disappear all over again. This man is a genius, a true genius, a genius in the way great musicians used to be before they we created just to be jammed down our throats for a quick buck and a catchy tune! Sadly the world doesn’t always understand genius at the time it appears. I can only hope the rest of the world will be able to experience this magic before it’s too late.
Searching for Sugar Man . . .