Memorable Music Documentaries for the Modern-Day Music Lover
Esteemed singer-songwriter Billy Joel once said: “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” As much as music is about the songs and the stories they tell, it is also about the people behind the songs. Musicians are inherently interesting people that make for superb documentary subjects. It is, therefore, no surprise that an increasing number of music documentaries are being produced, portraying the lives of some of the world’s most iconic musicians in a captivating and often award-winning manner. Of the countless documentaries that have been produced over the past decade or two, there are a few, including the following, that are bound to be remembered for many years to come.
Searching for Sugar Man
The late Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man focuses on the somewhat mysterious life of 70’s folk rocker Rodriguez. While the Detroit-based singer-songwriter failed to make it onto many radio playlists back in the seventies he did somehow unknowingly created the soundtrack to the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa at the time. In the film, Bendjelloul gathers opinions from fans about the identity and fate of Rodriguez and then goes in search of the truth. While hunting for the real man behind songs such as ‘Sugar Man’, ‘I think of You’, and ‘Cause’ the erratic nature of fame within the music industry is also exposed. Searching for Sugar Man won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2013, merely a year before the 36-year old Bendjelloul was found dead in Stockholm.
Beware of Mr. Baker
The documentary based on the life of legendary drummer Ginger Baker starts with a scene in which Baker delivers a severe blow to the director’s nose with his crutch. Produced by Andrew Karsch, Fisher Stevens, Erik Gordon, and Jay Bulger and starring Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, and Jack Bruce amongst others, Beware of Mr. Baker highlights the highs and lows of Baker’s glory days with supergroups Blind Faith and Cream. For the most part, the documentary is filmed at Baker’s home in South Africa which he shares with his African wife. Despite years of substance abuse and underlying health issues taking a toll on his body, Baker remains forthcoming throughout the entire film, recalling his life’s journey that was filled with both successes as well as a number of professional and personal misadventures.
Other memorable music documentaries
While Searching for Sugar Man and Beware of Mr. Baker are undoubtedly two very watch-worthy music documentaries, they are not the only ones that that will appeal to an ardent music lover. A must-see for all Nirvana fans is Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck which is every bit as manic, hardcore, and creatively genius as Kurt himself was. Another brilliant watch is Amy which, of course, focuses on the rise and fall of the very talented yet equally as tragic Amy Winehouse. Other memorable films include No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World.
The universe has blessed us with an array of talented, colorful musicians of which we can learn a great deal about and from. Despite your genre of choice, there is bound to be a music documentary that will appeal to and tug at the heartstrings of even the most eclectic music lover.