If you’re drawn to the vitriolic dimension of Rodriguez’s 26-song opus and are tracking reactions to Searching for Sugar Man, you’re probably tempted to respond to the media blitz with a pinch of cynicism. A Wikipedia entry, tweets and a rash of Facebook pages? Tick. Official merch and top-dollar eBay memorabilia? Affirmative. Bandwagoning and profiteering? Yes, but who the fuck cares? Certainly not Rodriguez. “Fame is fleeting,” is the cold fact that he drops on CNN (video below). It’s his highest profile interview ever. His star has never shone brighter. He responds with an air of cultivated detachment. This is not the man who wrote those songs 40 years ago. He’s even wiser!
And as for the unfortunate “Hispanic Dylan” tag that accompanies most mainstream commentary about Rodriguez, perhaps it’s best to identify the truth in it. While “Dylanesque” has come to describe any guitar-strumming singer-songwriter with a taste for poetry and irony, there are certainly Dylan and Rodriguez songs that make great companions. “Sugar Man” speaks to “Tambourine Man” while “Establishment Blues” sits comfortably next to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” “Forget It” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” are both table-turning reactions to being dumped and “Like Janis” and “Like a Rolling Stone” see Rodriguez and Dylan at their most vividly scornful.