Welcome to my first blog post of 2019! Hope the New Year is off to a good start for you. First a couple housekeeping notes. Posts on this blog from previous years have been placed on separate page. You can scroll/search for them there. The same is true of book and film ratings. I will be adding pages and making changes to the site over the next month. Time permitting that is.
Over the holiday I FINALLY got around to watching the Oscar-winning documentary, Searching For Sugar Man, about the singer Rodriguez. For those of you who don’t know the story, he was a singer from the late 60’s, early 70’s, that big-time producers thought was on the same level as Dylan. His style and lyrics are of that caliber. Trouble was, he was a Latino man trying to sell records in a country that didn’t want to listen to Latino men. However, while he was shunned in America, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, he became literally bigger than Elvis in South Africa, selling millions of records. Everyone there thought he was dead until a couple music fans in the 1990’s started digging around and discovered to their shock he wasn’t. They brought the singer to South Africa for sold-out concerts and basically the man who worked hard labor all his life because his music career had been derailed, found second life as a singer.
Rodriguez’ first album was Cold Fact. After seeing the movie, I ordered it. Turns out his works are still hard to purchase and when you can, it may be on the pricey side. This probably has to do with the fact initial record companies are defunct and there were lawsuits about what exactly happened to all that moola from South Africa.
The singer has lived and grown up in the inner-cities of America and does it ever show on this album. The lyrics are haunting, reflecting the desperation of surviving a country that doesn’t give merde about anything but money. This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues echoes Dylan but on a deeper level. Rodriguez’ voice has such a distinctive sound that its almost as though he’s a cry of what he’s writing about as he effortlessly moves through the hollow scenery of life.
I Wonder could’ve easily been a radio hit. Actually, there are at least three songs on this album where that could be true. But this song is catchy, sticks in your mind (in a good way) and always reminds me of something Elliot Smith might have wrote years later.
Whether its about lost souls searching for one last glimmer of hope or a fix to remind them there isn’t one, this album is totally worth adding to your music library. It is only a half-hour long but you’ll find yourself learning the songs on here. Rodriguez’ music sounds even more relevant and fresh than it did when first released. Cold Fact inspired anti-Apartheid bands in South Africa for good reason. With a rating of 5/5, let it inspire you.