Rodriguez

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary called Searching for Sugarman, about a 70s singer-songwriter named Rodriguez. It's a pretty compelling story.  The guy released two albums in the early 70s that, despite their quality, completely tanked in the US (and presumably in Europe).  By chance, some girl brought his first album to Apartheid-riddled South Africa, and through a series of people taping it and sharing cassettes, Rodriguez became a voice of a generation of young folks who knew Apartheid was wrong, but were somewhat powerless to do anything about the regime. Rodriguez became "bigger than Elvis" in South Africa, but never knew it.  It was estimated that he conservatively must have sold at least 500,000 copies of his album in South Africa, for which his now-defunct record company never paid him any royalties. The black guy is the trailer video who said he sold 6 copies in the US was the head of his label, and by all appearances seems to be the guy who screwed Rodriguez.  

Anyway, fans in SA tried to figure out what happened to Rodriguez. All they had to go on was one album cover. There was no info on him.  He had apparently vanished. The stories were that he had committed suicide on stage (in various grisly ways).  What they eventually found, and how the story unfolds from there is well worth watching the documentary for. 

As for the man's music -- I've been listening to his two original albums on Spotify, and it's quite stuff good in that 70s singer-songwriter vein. The most prevalent influence I hear is Bob Dylan, but Rodriguez has a much better voice -- more along the lines of Jose Feliciano's.  He's a fairly basic acoustic player -- not the level of a Croce, James Taylor, Paul Simon, or even Cat Stevens, but the songs are compelling, and the albums are well-produced. If you like those kinds of artists, you may very well like Rodriguez.  

The documentary is on Netflix, and may well be available elsewhere as well
Here's the trailer:


In the midst of the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.

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