Talent, they say, is a beacon which is picked up at a great distance. You’ve probably not heard of the singer song-writer Rodriguez, if you have, you’re probably South African. In that country he’s bigger than Elvis or The Stones, but in his homeland, the USA he’s completely unknown. Even his fellow demolition workers in Detroit were surprised to learn of Rodriguez’s talent, yet three great record producers say he is one of the greats.
Years ago somebody we knew who owned the world’s largest rock n roll agency said of another friend, “If he’s good he’ll be found, that’s the test.” Jason, our guitar genius, has never been found yet Nigel Kennedy told me, “Jason Carter! He’s F***ing brilliant!” That Jason won a Master Class with John Williams shows he was indeed a star, but the man is so poor I offered him my van because I was concerned he went everywhere in France, a country where accidents are rife, on a moped.
My hunch is that you need contacts and luck and although I gave that powerful owner of Wasted Talent, Jason’s CD, it didn’t happen. Mind, at the time, the owner was busy selling his child WT, so that was bad luck for Jason.
As for Rodrigues, the film ‘Searching for Sugarman” about his amazing story reveals a man you would love to count as your friend, not a huge ego, but a humble person who shrugs his shoulders and gets on with whatever life throws at him. By the time South Africa realised Rodriguez was still alive, he was in his late fifties and several tours made him wealthy. Used to living in a meagre house, he gave all this well earned money to his daughters and close friends and continued living as he had, even labouring on building sites, despite having returned from playing to audiences of tens of thousands.
He feels honest workers are good people, hard physical work is good for the body, that a simple existence is life well lived. I think the clue to his non-success lay in his not wanting to ‘play-up to the crowd’. He’d sit with his back to the audience, lost in his music, singing his songs, rather than performing.
Today we want flashy stage shows rather than quiet talent, we admire brass rather than humility, men such as Trump over the Obamas. Our smartphones encourage this with their constant images, we are lost in oceans of images which is one reason I’ve avoided filling my blogs with pictures. Yesterday, in line for the parking ticket machine, I was surrounded by bright young women whose cheeks were caked in make-up, eyes heavy under ugly false eyelashes, lips witchy beneath layers of nasty lipstick. Pretty things rendered ugly-sisters to attract men who had probably swiped them on an App.
The Jasons and Rodriguezs don’t stand a chance, haven’t stood a chance in decades in a world attracted by glitter rather than profundity. But all is not lost, we each have search engines in our minds which can sift through the dross and are able of discerning quality over quantity. That is the art of living - finding the profound in the moment, for it is there, gently twinkling, waiting for us to notice.