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Music / Rodriguez

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The walking, talking embodiment of Vindicated by History.
"'And I’ll forget about the girl who said no,
And I’ll tell who I want where to go,
And I’ll forget about your lies and deceit,
And your attempts to be so discreet,
Maybe today, yeah… I’ll slip away.”

"I’ll Slip Away", Rodriguez, 1967

The enigmatic Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (born July 10, 1942), commonly referred to as simply Rodriguez, is 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 album’s 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 Rodriguez’ 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. The discovery that he was alive was a delightful surprise, and Rodriguez himself was awestruck to find that he left a huge legacy after all. A concert tour was booked and was a huge success, and the legend of Rodriguez continues to spread to this day.


”Sugar Man, won’t you hurry? Because I’m tired of these scenes…”

  • Album Title Drop: From “This Is Not A Song, It’s 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.”
  • Dead Artists Are Better: And that's before they found out he was alive.
  • 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
    Street boy
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Did he ever. And just to put the icing on the cake, he did earn royalties from the documentary soundtrack.
  • 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.
  • Humble Hero: Absolutely. He declined to attend the 85th Academy Awards because he did not want to overshadow Searching For Sugar Man’s nomination for Best Documentary Feature.
  • Last-Name Basis: You don’t hear many people calling him Sixto.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    Rodriguez: Old? I'm not old. I'm ancient. Old? Stick around long enough, it just might happen to you. Age? Age? There's only one age. Either you're alive or you're not. I'm not gettin' old, I'm gettin' dead!
  • Singer-Songwriter: In the classic, Dylan-esque mould.
  • Something Blues: "This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues.”
  • Spoken Word in Music: “A Most Disgusting Song.”
  • Sue Donym: His debut single was credited to Rod Riguez.


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