Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows is a portrait of an overlooked yet hugely influential African-American musician whose 60 year career spanned every genre of Black music from the Blues, to Soul, to Funk, to Hip Hop.
In spite of enjoying success in Chicago in the 1960s with songs like “Come On Sock It To Me” and “Is It Because I’m Black,” and recording with the same band and producer as Al Green at Hi Records in Memphis in the ‘70s, Syl’s music remained largely unknown and his career was seemingly over by the ‘80s. With the advent of Hip Hop, his 1967 song “Different Strokes” became extremely popular among DJs and producers and was sampled by artists including Run-DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, the Beastie Boys, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Jay Z and Kanye West. The release of a comprehensive boxed set on the Numero Group record label in 2010 further revived his career and brought Syl Johnson his first Grammy nomination.
With fiery concert footage from then and now, a funky, energetic soundtrack, and an original score by Yo La Tengo, Any Way The Wind Blows shows how talent and perseverance can prevail in the end.
Watch the full documentary below.