Rodriguez – Welcome back Sugar Man!



If you were a 70s child I am sure you’re going to be excited at the prospect of the release of the movie “Searching for Sugar Man” on the life of Rodriguez,  Sixto Diaz Rodriguez from Detroit, Michigan if the truth be told. Rodriguez is now 70 years old and an unlikely hero but in the Republic of South Africa he was and still is a legend. “Searching For Sugarman” is an award winning movie, released internationally but a reality check for many South Africans.

Nothing better than lying down on the beach ogling the bikini clad ladies, sucking on a cold one and listening to Rodriguez. In fact, his music from album Cold Fact was one genre I never got tired of.   In fact when his album Cold Fact went platinum in South Africa he wasn’t even aware of this.  Rod Riguez as he called himself initially, later changing to Rodriguez was very popular in Australia, New Zealand of course Zimbabwe (ex-Rhodesia) and Namibia (ex-South West Africa), of course all sharing similar weather patterns, surfing and great looking girls in bikinis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh-99_1k3mE

For a boy in his late teens and early twenties Rodriguez music was immensely popular. Of course local magazines (in S.A.) were quick to point out that the Apartheid era  played a role in this popularity. Indeed? I wonder if the people writing these articles were around at the time? South Africa wasn’t Vietnam and although I also enjoyed (and still do) Dylan’s music I don’t hear Bob being hailed a hero in the Apartheid era. Certainly ‘Sugarman’ was played to death up on the border but so was Dylan and a host of other popular music at the time. No,’ Sugar Man’, ‘I Wonder’ were hits at the time by someone that played music for the hell of it and because he was good – we listened to it because it was laid back – middle class white folk at the time were mostly screened from the political woes in the 70s and early 80s by magnificant spin doctors and heavily censored state owned television. Rodriguez definitely had a cult following; be it soldiers in the bush, university students and teens experimenting in heavy petting and if you were lucky, a weekend ‘knippie’ (Afr. slang for sex) with your bokkie. (Afr. slang for girlfriend). Love him or hate him Rodriguez was our folk hero but never once did I believe he had anything to do with Apartheid, lazing in the sun, barbie with your mates and lots of cold ones, that was Rodriguez.

In 1991 Rodriguez had two CDs brought out, both from previous albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality.  Sadly Rodriguez was unaware of his fame in SA at the time until he was brought back on stage in 1998 at the request of his thousands of fans in the tour Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998.  Those of us that were around at the time were often told that Rodriguez hadn’t just slipped into obscurity – he had died, I was told it was in an air crash. Nonetheless this did influence the name of his tour. Certainly nothing about Apartheid, in fact his last tour was in Australia in1981 where he toured with Midnight Oil (did you even know the Midnight Oil was around then already?).  I think with Rodriguez’s leanings towards philosophy and choice of song lyrics it would have been easy to box his music into ‘Apartheid’ styled genre but no, it’s just too easy.

Of course if you really want to know what the song Sugar Man is all about maybe the lyrics will assist.  Just wanna know where Apartheid fits in. I recall lots of reefers, graunching and midnight petting but no songs crying for freedom – ‘I Wonder’ how many times you had sex was definitely not getting any air play in conservative South Africa at the time but again what did this song have to do with Apartheid.  We play the Apartheid drum to death but the youth were tired of the government and the crap that went with it. Like the youth today are tired of the governemnt and the crap that goes with it. Youth is all about freedom and experimentation. Sugar Man is great song which brings back many happy memories. It’s not about Apartheid, it’s about drugs. Sugar, Coke and Mary Jane. Drugs, sex and freedom.  Living in ultra conservative South Africa at the time, Rodriguez was a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Sugarman
Won’t ya hurry
Coz I’m tired of these scenes
For a blue coin
Won’t ya bring back
All those colours to my dreams
Silver majik ships, you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet MaryJane
Sugarman
Met a false friend
On a lonely, dusty road
Lost my heart
When I found it
It had turned to dead, black coal
Silver majik ships, you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet MaryJane
Sugarman
You’re the answer
That makes my questions disappear
Sugarman
Coz I’m weary
Of these double games I hear
Sugarman (x7)
[….fade to echo]
Sugarman
Won’t ya hurry
Coz I’m tired of these scenes
For a blue coin
Won’t ya bring back
All those colours to my dreams
Silver majik ships, you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet MaryJane
Sugarman
Met a false friend
On a lonely, dusty road
Lost my heart
When I found it
It had turned to dead, black coal
Silver majik ships, you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet MaryJane
Sugarman
You’re the answer
That makes my questions disappear
[….fade to echo]

Welcome back Rodriguez!

Go to the Sugarman website here:  http://sugarman.org/rod_profile.html

Time Entertainment: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/08/21/sixto-rodriguez-secret-rockstar-behind-searching-for-sugar-man/

One Reply to “Rodriguez – Welcome back Sugar Man!”

  1. I saw the movie finally last night. What a genius. What a humble giant of a man. Lovely daughters. Lovely family. If you haven’t seen it – see it. If you haven’t heard of the man – see it. Get the albums. An absolute must have for any collector of good music. I believe it’s been nominated for an Oscar (documentation) – I think the movie will walk it. Telling the tale simply, telling the tale powerfully and brilliantly put together.

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