“Most of you know how it works: I sing a line, then you sing something that sounds like something that I might have sung sometime.” It is fitting that a man who made chanting accessible would have a likewise accessible documentary about his journey. First-time filmmaker Jeremy Frindel was inspired to make One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das because of a dark period in his own life; he succeeds in tapping into the struggles of a man trying to find his place in the world.
Krishna Das, affectionately known as KD, is a spiritual teacher and musician world-renowned for his call-and-response kirtans. He clarifies that his music is not a career but a spiritual practice that saved his life.
Born Jeffrey Kagel, the film traces his early years playing rock n’ roll in the 70s, turning down stardom and seeking out Ram Dass and his guru in India, Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba). This meeting didn’t cure his struggles with drugs and depression but it did reveal a path. Early on, KD reveals, “When I realized that if I didn’t sing, I would never, ever be able to clean out the dark places in my own heart…The only chance I had was to sing with people.”
Featuring first-person reflections, interviews with colleagues and family, archival and recent tour footage, the film is a love story about practice, letting go, and connecting to what frees you.
A Zeitgeist Film, One Track Heart plays at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles on May 31 – June 6: onetrackheartmovie.com.
Reviewed by Joy Tomasko