Sixto Rodriguez, a brillant singer-songwriter, recorded two amazing albums in the early seventies. But they didn’t sell, his label dropped him, and the company itself folded a few years after. Hearing the music now, you have to wonder … how could this have happened? The contagious melodies, the elegant, tight constructions rivaling the Beatles, the lyrics recalling the early invention and engagement of Dylan—it is truly hard to comprehend. If, that is, you actually believe we live in a meritocracy: a land where race and class don’t stack every deck, where talent and hard work are inevitably rewarded. Rodriguez, by the way, knows a thing or two about hard work. After his last recording, for the forty years or so, he has worked in demolition and construction, in his hometown, Detroit. More demolition than construction, we can assume. I’ve been to Detroit.