How I Found Sugar Man

Music

How I Found Sugar Man

Not in the way you think, no – earlier this week I went to watch a most memorable film. I don’t usually write about films on this blog in as much as its main focus is not film – but I had to mention this next one as I think it is somewhat of a masterpiece. I don’t mean to make an exaggeration but it really was something else!

Searching for Sugarman is a documentary that tells the story of Sixto Rodriquez, a Mexican-American folk singer from the 70s era who had a short lived musical career, before returning to work as a demolition man in Detroit. Little to his knowledge was the fact that his first album Cold Fact became a massive cultural phenomenon amongst white liberals in South Africa during Apartheid (where the album was subsequently censored) – where it spread like wild fire. In South Africa he was bigger than Elvis!

I was first introduced to Rodriguez about 3 years ago and after a panel member at a singing competition I participated in recommended him to me after hearing my voice, which according to her; sounded a lot like Rodriguez.

When listening to Rodriguez, I could instantly relate to his songwriting – in the way that his lyrics read like someone telling a detailed yet poetic story. The film is so emotionally moving that I spent the whole of the next day contemplating and meditating it through my head – in utter disbelief that outside of South Africa, Rodriguez’s career hadn’t gone very far. This story of a gifted songwriter whose music deserved to be heard, never made it in his home country. As someone in the film says, perhaps it was too political – maybe a little too honest. Yet this honest and this bold disregard for rules and perceptions of what songwriting is supposed to be, is what makes Rodriguez so special.

Now that I’ve become a bit more serious about my own songwriting, I’m definitely going to be checking out more of his stuff.

Here is the trailer:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hEojBYmR-o]

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  • My dad introduced me to Rodriguez when I was a teen. My sister was obsessed. She scrawled his lyrics to Inner City Blues on her bedroom wall: “Drinking from a Judas cup, looking down but seeing up, sweet red wine…”
    I haven’t seen the film yet. But I will.

    1. I love Inner City Blues, it was one of the songs that jumped out at me when I listened to him first. I actually wanted to do my own interpretation of that song for a cabaret that I wanted to write and perform. Anyway you should see Searching for Sugarman – it’s really beautiful – it had me almost in tears – amazing film!

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