Sixto Rodriguez/Searching for Sugar Man, 2012 Sony Pictures Classics
Finally got the chance to view “Searching for Sugar Man” over the weekend and I highly recommend this truly extraordinary documentary. The film tells an unbelievable story of the musician, Rodriguez, who was famously unsuccessful here in America and across the world in South Africa was….just famous, which would have been great, if only he had been made aware of it.
“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” – Anais Nin
The reason why his two albums released here in America, which were quite accomplished with poetic, soulful lyrics failed to take off is a bit of a musical mystery and one Rodriguez himself shrugged off by saying, “it’s the music business, there are no guarantees”. However it was a very different story playing out in South Africa, to the people suffering through the oppressive forces of the apartheid era – they were frustrated, fearful, largely cut off from the rest of the world, yet at the same time, ripe for revolution and looking for inspiration, which they found in the lyrics and spirit of Rodriguez’s albums Cold Fact & Coming from Reality. His lyrics inspired them to fight against their circumstances.
Rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated….
The film follows two Cape Town fans who were anxious to uncover the mystery surrounding the artist Rodriguez, and to discover the truth behind his rumored death. As they were nearly ready to give up, Rodriguez’s daughter Eva saw their website pleas for information and the rest as they say is history. And so finally Rodriguez, very much alive…found out that he had been an icon and hero of the South African people for over twenty years and prepared to meet his longtime fans for the first time.
Rodriguez in Detroit
What I found even more amazing than the story was Sixto Rodriguez himself, a man full of grace, humble and hard-working, who when he found that in another country he had been more famous than Elvis, didn’t lament his misfortune at all but merely enjoyed finding some recognition for his work before returning to his everyday life back here in Detroit. Truly extraordinary.