I watched the most amazing film tonight, about a musician whose name I’ve always been aware of but whom I knew nothing about. Just hearing his music in this documentary began to inspire me, poetic lyrics talking about philosophy, politics, society, coming straight from the heart. “Well just climb up on my music, and my songs will set you free, well just climb up on my music, and from there jump off with me.” I definitely need to buy an album and get to know it better, the man is Rodriguez and his story is quite incredible, I had tears running down my face as I watched parts of this film.
His albums did absolutely nothing in America at the beginning of the seventies and so he went back to being a construction worker in Detroit. In the meanwhile his music somehow made its way over to South Africa where it inspired a whole generation of South Africans who hated apartheid, and who were searching for inspiration to change the system. Apparently he was bigger over there at that time than The Rolling Stones! But no-one knew anything about the man himself, and over twenty years later a music journalist discovered that their hero, whom they thought was dead, was still living in Detroit working at heavy labour.
It’s like a modern fairytale, Rodriguez went to South Africa and played to huge stadiums of fans, then went back to Detroit and his work. What impressed me more than anything else was his equanimity, whether he was playing to hordes of adoring fans, or going in to clean up a construction site, there was an acceptance of where he was and what he was doing. The Buddhists talk about bringing the quality of meditation into everything that they do, from the most extraordinary tasks to the most mundane. From what I saw of Rodriguez he is a master in this practice, he doesn’t give much away so I guess it’s hard to know what might really be going on inside. But there is a grace and ease in his body language, even as you can see pain in the movement, and to me that signals acceptance and surrender more than any words ever could.
I saw a man who brings a sense of the sacred to everything that he does, and surely that is something we can all aspire to, I know that I do. The most inspiring people are the ones who are in their fullness doing what they have come here to do, but who manage at the same time to be quite ordinary. Living an ordinary life in an extraordinary way!
Here’s the trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL5TffdOQ7g
And here is one of his songs, Cause, from the album, Coming From Reality: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKFkc19T3Dk