If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I have a huge love affair with Rodriguez and his music. It goes way back…way, way back.
Surfing the net today I made a discovery. My idol of the 70’s is coming to New Zealand.
I just about dropped the laptop.
There were whoop whoops, oh yeahs, and a whole lot of dancing going on. Recently I was able to finally watch “Searching for Sugarman”. If you haven’t seen this film…you really are missing out.
When you want as desperately as I did to see a movie there is always the fear that it will be a bomb.
From the moment they played “Crucify your Mind” I knew…just knew I was witnessing a magical moment in film history. And as the film progressed I was sucked further in to his world.
I saw Rodriguez play in Sydney.
Are there moments in your life that define you ?
That concert was a defining moment for me. He sat there on stage and played the guitar and sent his voice out across the seats to settle upon me. He sang and my soul soared out of my body to touch his voice as it floated in the air. It caressed the deepest parts of me like the warm water in a bath licking your skin.
I was amazed at how much influence he had in South Africa. My only criticism of the film would be that there was no mention of how popular he was in Australia. But then again this is a story of South Africans searching for a cult idol.
I had no idea how much he influenced the rebellion against apartheid. How his words told a nation it was okay to stand against the establishment. His music inspired a group of Afrikaans musicians to use their music to speak out and start a vocal opposition to apartheid from within the country.
Another important question raised in this movie is where did all the money go from his record sales ? As the people who were looking for Rodriguez went further they got more and more stonewalled. But all roads seem to lead to one man – Clarence Avant. He was the founder of Rodriguez’s record label. He goes on and on about Rodriguez’s talent, but when it comes to talking about where the money went from South African sales he becomes quite evasive and belligerent.
The great Rodriguez hunt saw a website born that had his picture on a milk carton asking if anyone had seen this man. Finally the words of a song lead to Mike Theodore in 1997 who had produced Rodriguez’s album Cold Fact. This led to Rodriguez himself. No he hadn’t committed suicide, he hadn’t died of a drug overdose. He had taken the disappointment and gotten on with the job of living. That milk carton web page led to Rodriguez’s daughter.
It seems life can still hold surprises. Rodriguez was talked in to performing in South Africa. I think his daughter’s account of their arrival in South Africa was the high point of the film for me. They tried to get out of the way of the limousines that were on the tarmac never realising those limousines were for them.
When Rodriguez took to the stage for his first concert it took 10 minutes for the applause to stop…before he had played a note. So this is when I began to cry. And when he began to play “I Wonder” the roof looked like it was shaking…so I cried a little more.
What is the most poignant thing in this documentary of this extraordinary talent? His complete and honest humility. This is one of the world’s most extraordinary men. It makes my heart soar that he knows that his words touched people. Some people get fame undeservedly…not Rodriguez.
Beware…whether you knew Rodriguez before or not, this film will touch a place in your soul. It will make it fly with joy, that sometimes…just sometimes the spirit is rewarded.
It gets better. Rodriguez is selling out tours across America – finally.
And he is coming here…where for the second time in my life I will feel his words bathe me in their sweet softness.
What he’s demonstrated very clearly is that you have a choice. He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain and he transformed it in to something beautiful. He’s like the silkworm, you know, you know you take this raw material and you transform it, and you come out with something that wasn’t there before, something beautiful, something perhaps transcendent something perhaps eternal, in so far as he does that I think he is representative of the human spirit of what’s possible that you have a choice, this has been my choice, to give you “Sugarman”, now have you done that…ask yourself ? – Rick Emmerson
My 2 favourite songs