Last night I went to a concert. A man called Sixto Rodriguez. Not to be confused with Joaquin Rodrigo, whose Concerto de Aranjuez I love but somehow cannot lisp sufficiently to pronounce properly, who has been dead for some years now.
This is the man who wrote folk-protest music and created a few albums in the 1970s. His music caused little interest in the USA but here in South Africa his music and lyrics expressed a lot we related to. He was a music hero to us. I have to confess I, like many other South Africans, just assumed he was equally big elsewhere. We were pretty isolated with a very repressive government. Some of his stuff was not played through official channels but we all partied and sang along to his music. When there was no more new music from him we all believed some story of his death.
Then a few years ago, a stirring. He had been found! The story of that is in the documentary ” Searching for Sugarman”.
When we went to see the documentary, I was struck by his outlook on life, simple, fairly clear. His experiences and thinking and reflecting came out in the lyrics. No wonder he spoke directly into that part of us who wanted a liberation from ‘dictated thinking about how the world should be’. Giving us peeps into something more open.
The opening act, local guys who seemed to think it is all about volume provided an interesting contrast to the main event. Backing Rodriguez were a few South African musicians, mostly old enough to know his music from their own youth and are professionals who can blend and meld into lovely compelling sound.
And the man. Now 70, just himself, comments that seemed real such as “I only feel this young in South Africa”, and telling a silly joke. His own, and a bit of others music, all bringing us back our youth, or at least strong memories of it.
The simplicity of being yourself. What a gift he shared with us.