Friday, May 31, 2013

Searching for Sugar Daddy

I should update my blog more often. People like Dr. Sam Tsang encouraged me to update my blog. So here I am.

For the past few years, I've been quite busy switching my opinion on another medium, i.e. facebook. Facebook has pros and cons. On the good side, it's quick and I can type Chinese fast. But on the other hand, it's a very public forum and people can criticize you right away within seconds.

I'm not the type of people who are afraid of being criticized. In fact, when I post something controversial, I expect to be criticized, but I often have reasons to defend myself, and often my opponents fail within 1 to 2 attempts. The point is, even though facebook is a very thought-provoking medium, one still needs to use a lot of time and effort to respond to the meatheads leaving you comments on your own thread on your own timeline on your own wall. And THAT takes time.

Maybe that's why I haven't had time to write something remotely coherent for a year or two.

Now that I get my romantic chills back, I have decided to lay low on facebook for awhile and instead choose to use this old-fashioned platform to let out some of my opinionated thoughts. This is for the elite, for those who aren't afraid to read long-windedness in English, and for those who welcome challenging thoughts.

So my heart goes to Rodriguez!!! I stumbled upon this wonderful documentary film called "Searching for Sugar Man" all of a sudden. I vaguely heard that it was the Oscar winner for Best Documentary this year and it was about a musician that was underrated and had been in the recluse for awhile. So that's my kind of movies.

And wow! Not only was I pleasantly surprised, but I also burst into tears at least 3 to 4 times during the movie. I was amazed by the filmmakers' and the music historians' persistence to find this Rodriguez guy, after so many years of not being in the limelight. Rodriguez was a musician/poet/sing-songwriter not unlike the style of Bob Dylan who released 2 albums in the early 70's to little success. His albums didn't sell well in America. Sussex Records dropped him off the label. He went on drifting on the streets and occasionally doing some demolition and renovation work in Detroit - well, the typical anti-American dream story!

The guy has disappeared for almost 30 to 40 years.

Who would have thought that his albums were actually a hit in South Africa, selling more than half a million copies, which indirectly influenced to entire anti-apartheid movement in the 80's, thereby overthrowing the then authoritarian South African dictatorship. Who would have thought? So in South Africa, almost no one has not heard of Rodriguez, and he became the hero of political activism. But the key is, Rodriguez knew nothing about his success in South Africa, until the filmmakers and the historians gave him the good news some 40 years later.

Rodriguez's overnight success may seem like a Cinderella story, but what has that got to do with me?

Well, first, Rodriguez didn't want recognition. At least that is not the most important thing to him. His fame came late and was long overdue, but it came. So that gives me hope.

I've been working hard on music for the past 5 to 6 years. I'm sometimes being trapped by the phenomenon known as "recognition." Of course, no one dislikes being recognized. But sometimes, the lack of recognition hinders my drive to create better music.

What I get out of the movie is that Rodriguez does not need recognition (albeit he appreciates it), but he is just grateful that he is still making music and that he is doing what he loves to do.

That gives me inspiration!

My life's goal is to search for people like Rodriguez, people who are geniuses but are forgotten by most. I've managed to have done that with my last album "The Chung Brothers Sing the Gospel Songbook of Benjamin Ng." I will continue to do that with our new album, and that's going to shock!

But most of all, my life's goal is also to search for the sugar man within myself. To search for the innocence that is within me that attracted me to music in the first place. And the search for a greater humanity!

Thank you Rodriguez for helping me find the Sugar Man within myself.

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