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Music Documentaries

Documentaries are always interesting because it gives the viewer an opportunity to see inside the life of a stranger.  Recently, I’ve been watching documentaries about musicians. It’s fascinating to see how performers reach success through hard work, talent, and usually a dash of luck.

Beware of Mr. Baker is a documentary that I came upon on Netflix that can also be ordered through our catalog. The focus is Ginger Baker who is best known as the drummer for Blind Faith and Cream with Eric Clapton. Baker was - and is - a tremendous musician, and learning how he rose to fame is captivating. What makes the film even more interesting is Baker’s personality. To put it kindly, he is a very difficult person to get along with. In fact, on the final day of filming he hit the director of the film in the face with his cane!

Searching for Sugar Man is the fascinating story of a 1970s Detroit folk singer, Sixto Rodriguez, who never made it big in the United States, but became a music legend in South Africa. His music became part of the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa. This is the story of two of his fans who seek out what became of Rodriguez who was rumored to have died.

I’m not a fan of punk rock by any stretch of the imagination, but at the urging of my husband I watched Gimme Danger, the story of The Stooges and their front man Iggy Pop. A couple of other good choices: The Defiant Ones is a documentary about the very unlikely partnership of record producer Jimmy Lovine and rap artist and producer Dr. Dre; Amy chronicles the rise and tragic fall of Amy Winehouse.

History of the Eagles: The Story of an American Band is one of my favorites even though I never considered myself a huge fan of the band. The love, and sometimes hate, the members of the band have for one another is really interesting. However, my favorite thing about the film is Joe Walsh’s philosophy - “As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on. And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel.”

These and so many more documentaries are available here and at other libraries in Rhode Island. You never know what you might learn…even from Joe Walsh!


by Caroline Badowski, Reference Librarian