The Oscar nominated film Searching for Sugarman is profound on many counts.
Besides the heartfelt story and poetic music that I grew up to, it is a good balancing message for the Malcolm Gladwell / personal development pundits who say that once you do your 10,000 hours all will be ok.
Well actually it is not ok. Proclaimed by many as an equal of Bob Dylan, Sixto Rodriguez’s music didn’t sell. With no future as an artist he gave up that career returning to manual labour as a construction worker.
He spent years in the wilderness far away from the world of music. Then two curious fans wondered how it was that half a million of his albums had sold in South Africa (population then of 40 million) and yet he was unknown in his own United States. They tracked him down and reunited him with his fans.
Now his story is growing in popularity along with his music. He has concerts scheduled across the world. His fame is a result of actions far beyond his control and unrelated to the quality of his art.
The message is that art should not be done for the audience but rather done as an expression of ourselves. If the audience responds then brilliant, if not just carry on.
We are moving away from the industrial age labour of the office cubicle. Today the world values the individual art of entrepreneurs and those of us prepared to break out of how work has been defined for the past century.
This shift makes the story of Rodriguez probably one of the most valuable of our time.
Quotes from Time magazine interview with Sixto Rodriguez (28th January 2013)
Time: I’m guessing you’re not doing much demolition any more?
SR: I was doing demolition yesterday. I’m renovating my home.
Time: You’re doing your own demolition? At 70?
SR: I live below my means. I think that’s a good discipline because you never can tell. I’m not an ascetic. I just think that’s wiser.
Image source: http://bit.ly/14cmgaV