"He poured petrol over himself and set himself alight on stage."
That was one of the rumours of what happened to Rodriguez, explaining away why we never heard anything about him, despite his haunting music, his beautiful, sometimes political, always meaningful, lyrics. He was the soundtrack to thousands of South African teenage years, from the 70's right through until the 90's, when I was a teenager, and perhaps still. I don't have teenagers, so I can't be sure. We all thought he was recognised worldwide, being from America and all. Apparently not.
One lover of his music made it his mission to find the real story and the movie documents it. He tries to find out who was behind Rodriguez, where he lived, who he was and, in doing so finds many dead ends, a record label who say they 'sold six of his first album in the States.' It's estimated that half a million have been sold in South Africa, thus far. Nobody in the States seemed to know about it, nobody knew where the money went.
And then, they found his daughter. And him. Alive and still working as a construction worker, living in an old decrepit house in Detroit - a city which just looks desolate and slightly hopeless - and he shines. It's as if he's from another world. An absolutely beautiful man, with a voice that makes your blood feel like honey, he's old now but, even in the film, he still shines.
It's hard to put into words exactly what it is about him, he's just so gentle and unassuming and I won't spoil the movie by talking about the end of it because it needs to be watched to be believed. I cried and cried, big, hot, heavy tears, not because it's tragic, it's just so... emotional. See? Struggling to string a proper sentence together about it, to write something that does it justice.
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