And Iíll tell who I want where to go,
And Iíll forget about your lies and deceit,
And your attempts to be so discreet,
Maybe today, yeah... Iíll slip away.Ē
The enigmatic Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (July 10, 1942 — August 8, 2023), commonly referred to as simply Rodriguez, was a Detroit-based Folk Rock Singer-Songwriter who cut his teeth performing in various clubs and bars, building up a repertoire with haunting, acoustic-based songs with sharp lyrics of cynical social commentary. Thanks to friends and session players Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, Rodriguez eventually found his way to Clarence Avant, who made him the first signee of Sussex Records. Rodriguez recorded an albumís worth of material on an acoustic guitar, and was generously overdubbed with various psychedelic effects, strings, and other instruments. The result was Cold Fact.
... which pretty much made no commercial headway. A follow-up album, Coming From Reality, met a similar fate, and Rodriguez was dropped from the label. To make matters worse, it has since been alleged that Avant may have cheated Rodriguez out of royalties. At that point, he decided to hang up his guitar and start doing construction work to support his family, and even applying to go to university. To Rodriguezí surprise, though, he was asked to do some concerts in Australia near the end of the 70s, coinciding with the rerelease of the album, and briefly enjoyed a resurgence of attention there, but it was soon back to Detroit to be a provider once more.
But that was nothing compared to what came in 1998.
It turned out that, in the rough political climate of South Africa, many people there had embraced Rodriguez as an anti-establishment icon, considering him in the same esteem as people like Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. The Academy Award winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, details the effort of some South African fans to find out what truly happened to Sixto Rodriguez, as he was long thought dead by suicide. As fate would have it, one of Rodriguez' three daughters stumbled upon a fan site those same fans put up in 1997, and she contacted them with the news that her father was, in fact, very much alive, which was a delightful surprise. One thing led to another, and a concert tour of six shows was booked in South Africa, and was a huge success, leaving Rodriguez awestruck to find that he had left a huge legacy after all.
For the next couple decades, he toured once in a while, even taking his family on tour with him, until Sixto Diaz Rodriguez finally slipped away from reality on August 8th, 2023.
- 1970 — Cold Fact
- 1971 — Coming From Reality
- 1981 — Rodriguez Alive (live album, exclusive to Australia)
- 1998 — Live Fact (live album, exclusive to South Africa)
- 2012 — Searching for Sugar Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (doubles as a Greatest Hits Album)
- 2016 — Rodriguez Rocks: Live In Australia (live album, exclusive to Australia)
"Sugar Man, wonít you hurry? Because Iím tired of these scenes..."
- Album Title Drop: From "This Is Not A Song, Itís An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues":"This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune, and that's a concrete cold fact."
- And he drops it again in "Inner City Blues."
- Break-Up Song: "I Wonder" is a pretty bitter example, and even has a bit of Slut-Shaming. "Crucify Your Mind" is a slightly more elegant example.
- Cool Shades: More like Iconic Shades by this point; he rarely performs without them.
- Crapsack World: As he tells it in his music. Especially "Cause."
- Downer Ending: Coming From Reality ends with "Cause," a song about never seeing anything in return for all the work you've done. Fittingly, it's also the last song Rodriguez recorded before he quit music. If he hadn't been rediscovered, that would've been a Downer Ending for his whole career.
- Dr. Feelgood: The titular "Sugar Man" is this.
- Drugs Are Bad:
- The song "Street Boy" only implies this, but based on the life of the titular 'street boy,' it's pretty obvious what he's doing out there.Your sister says that every week
You just come home to eat and go to sleep
And you make plans you never keep
Because your mind is always in the streets
You better get yourself together, look for something better
- The lyrics of "Sugar Man" superficially seem positive toward drugs, but his desperate vocal and the creepy edge of the arrangement (especially the discordant bridge) are what end up finally conveying this message in the song.
- The song "Street Boy" only implies this, but based on the life of the titular 'street boy,' it's pretty obvious what he's doing out there.
- Elvis Lives: It's not like Sixto was actually hiding, but the South Africans were convinced that he was dead due to all the rumors.
- Last-Name Basis: You donít hear many people calling him Sixto.
- List Song: Everything Rodriguez saw as examples of society falling apart - pollution, crime, high divorce rate, smoking causing cancer, politicians faltering, and more - is crammed into "This is Not a Song, Itís an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues" and ticked off one by one, in what amounts to a two-minute rant in folk music form.Garbage ain't collected, women ain't protected
Politicians using, people they're abusing
The mafia's getting bigger, like pollution in the river
And you tell me that this is where it's at
- Non-Appearing Title: "Like Janis" note and "Jane S. Piddy" note on Cold Fact, which led to them getting mixed up in various reissues.
- Ode to Intoxication: "Sugar Man."
- Precision F-Strike:
- Talks about playing in "faggot bars" in "A Most Disgusting Song."
- Using the word "sex" in "I Wonder" was considered very scandalous in South Africa when he was first heard there.
- Protest Song: Quite a lot of them, and they're not exactly subtle.
- Self-Deprecation: If you get the Record Store Day 7", then you'll hear a live recording of the previously unreleased song, "I'm Gonna Live Until I Die," which he prefaces with some words of wisdom:
- Singer-Songwriter: In the classic, Dylan-esque mould.
- Something Blues: "This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues." It's really more folk than blues.
- Spoken Word in Music: "A Most Disgusting Song."
- Sue Donym: His debut single was credited to Rod Riguez.