Were you watching 60 Minutes last night? If you were, you know what I’m talking about. If not, well, you are in for a sweet surprise.
A man called Sixto Diaz Rodriguez was born in 1942 to parents who had emigrated from Mexico in the 20’s. Some people thought he wrote some great music about life on the streets of Detroit. He was recorded.
His albums met critical acclaim, but few bought his music. He faded into the proverbial oblivion, taking on construction jobs to keep body and soul together while he wrote, played here and there, and basically lived near the poverty level.
Somehow his music found its way to South Africa where it met a crowd of young people who were sick to death in their hearts of apartheid. His raw lyrics about real life struck a chord and seemed to speak to them. He became their hero and his music sold by the tens of thousands.
They thought he was dead. An urban legend arose that he had committed suicide on stage by self-immolation. But people wondered, and based on a lyric in one of his songs that mentioned Dearborn, somebody did some looking, and they found him. Ultimately they brought him to South Africa, these thirty years later, and he sang before thousands who knew every word of his songs.
And now, he’s making another tour. And his music is amazing.
Most of his songs reflect his political beliefs that the poor have a lousy hand to play. And he managed while working the construction thing, to enroll in Wayne State University and secure a degree in philosophy. And that’s pretty darn lucky for him, since he’s a philosopher after all.
Much of all this is detailed in a documentary entitled “Searching for Sugar Man” written and directed by Malik Bendjelloul. He barely was able to finish it, running out of money himself. But he did. And it as the premiere hit at Sundance and it’s been included in film festivals everywhere, and it may end up garnering an Academy Award nomination.
And well, I just thought you might like to hear what this man has to say.
You can see and listen to a longer play list (9) from the documentary at HuffPo and a piece of the documentary itself.
His name is Rodriguez. And you will never forget his music.
- Sixto Rodriguez: the Sugar Man returns (guardian.co.uk)
- Resurrecting Rodriguez (dailymaverick.co.za)
- Sixto Rodriguez, Secret Rock Star Behind Searching for Sugar Man (entertainment.time.com)
- Singer-Songwriter Rodriguez’s Career Sees Resurgence After Documentary (VIDEO) (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Searching For Sugarman is more than a sweet surprise (elizamoritz.wordpress.com)
- Rodriguez: Searching for Sugar Man OST (Review) (popmatters.com)
- 1970s Musician Rodriguez’s Story Told on ’60 Minutes’ (tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com)