“He’s Like The Silkworm” – Rick Emmerson

Rick Emmerson
Rick Emmerson (from Searching For Sugar Man film | Sony Pictures Classics)

What he’s demonstrated very clearly is that you have a choice. He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain and he transformed it in to something beautiful. He’s like the silkworm, you know, you know you take this raw material and you transform it, and you come out with something that wasn’t there before, something beautiful, something perhaps transcendent something perhaps eternal, in so far as he does that I think he is representative of the human spirit of what’s possible that you have a choice, this has been my choice, to give you “Sugar Man”, now have you done that…ask yourself ? – Rick Emmerson

Thanks to Chronicles of Illusions for the transcription.


32 thoughts on ““He’s Like The Silkworm” – Rick Emmerson

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  1. “He approached the work
    from a different place than
    most people do.
    He took it very, very seriously.
    Son’ of like a sacrament, you know?
    He was going to do this dirty,
    dirty work for eight or ten hours, okay?
    But he was dressed in a tuxedo.”

    “He had this kind of magical quality
    that all genuine poets and artists have
    to elevate things.
    To get above the mundane, the prosaic.
    All the bullshit.
    All the mediocrity that’s everywhere.
    The artist, the artist is the pioneer.
    Even if his musical hopes were dashed,
    the spirit remained.
    And he just had to keep finding a place,
    refining the process
    of how to apply himself.
    He knew that there was something more.
    It was in the early ‘s.
    He wanted to do something,
    do something righteous,
    make a difference.”

    Rick Emmerson


  2. I just finished showing this documentary to a high school English class and was fascinated by Emmerson’s remarkable comments–and challenge. In a few eloquent words, he describes the mysterious drive behind the quest to create art. I’m sure he has much more to say; like other viewers, I crave more insight from him.


  3. So, after almost a year of praise for Rick on this blog we still no nothing more about him. Like you all, have been truly moved by his insights and his use of English. In my search, was sure that I would find that he was a poet. Where is he? What is he doing?


  4. I too was impressed with both the content and delivery of Mr. Emmerson’s comments. Great laugh, too!
    Seems to be a very thoughtful man, as well as very articulate. I think it would be a pleasure to have a long conversation with him.
    Maybe he has a future in books-on-tape…

    Thank you for adding yet another layer to this wonderful film!


  5. Couldn’t have been more amazed by Rick Emmerson. One of the most un-affected and insightful few sentences I’ve heard in a while. I’d love to hear more of what he has to say about the world.


  6. I would love to hear more about RIck and to hear some of his music. He seems to be another genuine poet and great thinker. I would love to have his vocabulary and natural oratory skills!


  7. Small-minded people are very often erroneous in their judgement of character and intelligence of people they’ve never even met! Just because Rick does construction work,does that mean he’s devoid of a high IQ?….I think not! Rick is a self-taught,deep-thinking individual…who’s also an accomplished musician. I’m proud to call him a friend!


    1. You need to get out and meet and work with more construction workers. Not to take anything from Rick Emerson but to suggest that it is amazing that he is a “mere” construction?… I know construction workers that are like Emerson in that they are deep thinkers and bright, practical builders. Jesus was a carpenter right? There is a whole realm of discussion we haven’t touched on too much and which deserves a documentary or two in itself. How is it that Sugarman’s deep lyrics were never heard in the Americas? Would it have interfered with the rise of Dylan? I think a lot of Dylan derailed the progressive movement in the 60’s. Thinking: “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.” Did someone want Dylan in the spotlight instead of Rodriguez? How would the movement have been affected if Dylan’s cynicism had been replace by Rodriguez’s humanism? How do they differ in orientation?


  8. Truly moved by Rodriguez’s story.

    Inspired by his ability to constantly maintain his truth and honesty of self, no matter what he is doing.

    His essence reminds me of Ghandi…

    PS: Rick, Your partner is a very lucky lady.


  9. Rick Emmerson is a smart guy.

    You should be proud of him, Colleen.

    He knows the noble and the beautiful when he sees it.

    His ironic laugh is a treasure.

    He should be teaching literary theory at university.

    He seems to be better than many of the people who are doing it now.

    James F. Pontuso
    Patterson Professor
    Hampden-Sydney College


  10. So happy to hear all the wonderful feedback. Proud to call Rick my dad, he is a pretty amazing person, if I do say so myself!


    1. Colleen, Hello from NYC. I didn’t realize I just needed to scroll down a bit farther to get the information I was seeking. Thank you for sharing your note about your father. Is he a writer, too? Does he read constantly? How has he impacted you? One would hope your family could find some of the unexpected glory that the Rodriguez family did. I hope your father stayed in touch with Rodriguez. Best, Cynthia


  11. I just watched Searching for Sugar Man and I’m delighted and confused. Straight from a parallel universe where construction workers are Poet Laureates. Rodriguez is no doubt the story, deservedly so but his buddy Emmerson was ridiculously articulate and a master of the English language. His ability to describe Rodriguez, each word better than the next, was more typical of a statesman, orator or great litigator than a construction worker. This is not intended to offend the noble, honest working men who demolish and build with their hands. But so many of the “real” people in this film jumped off the screen as if from another dimension. The Rodriguez daughters, all so soulful and grounded. Rodriguez himself, grace personified. These are people who make it easier to believe that a more divine place awaits. Congrats and thanks to all who shared this amazingly rich and fascinating story.


    1. I could not agree with you more. Rick’s words completely floored me. I want to hear what else he has to say about.. anything at all.


      1. Did a search on him…not much, except he is also a musician…I was also blown away by not only “what he said”, but, – How he said it – so casually…without affectation, as if describing how to tear down a wall.


      2. Chris, you too have a beautiful mastery of the English language. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world. It was a pleasure to read. I found Searching for Sugar Man this month (June 2017), and I was mesmerized at how Rick Emmerson appears to be so down to earth and simultaneously elevated as he describes Rodriguez. I thought,”This guy, too? That’s some construction company!” What an amazing menagerie of intersecting lives. I also recently learned that the filmmaker committed suicide in 2013. One can only hope the person that put these people together in a magical story has found the divine place you hope awaits us all. Best, Cynthia


    2. How is it that Rick is not more well known?. As I read the comments here I have said to myself numerous times…That is EXACTLY how I feel. I wish someone would post some LINKS to Rick’s music, or other sites where he writes, speaks or posts… We are all thirsting for substance and when we SEE it, we can rarely find a way to stay in touch with it. For the South Africans it was a search for Sugar Man For me it has been a search for “the REAL people” who as Chris so rightly said, just jumped off the screen as if from another dimension. Would someone please post some directions to the portal which leads to that “other dimension”…


      1. It’s wonderful to find so many that were as captivated with Emmerson (and of course Rodriguez and his daughters) as I was and who would all take the time to write about him. I searched for him in June 2017 and found nothing.


  12. I think Rick was one (there were several) of the most interesting people in “Searching”…a beautiful film that I hope wins an Academy award.


    1. Rick Emmerson is also my father…. He is truly fascinating in every way! Please check out his music on SoundCloud… if you were moved by his words, his music will most definitely inspire you! So wonderful to read all of your comments…!


      1. After watching searching for sugar man and hearing Rick Emmerson discuss his affiliation with Rodriguez, I propose that Rick take over the management of Rodriguez for the near future, I can tell he is very honest and would not cheat Rodriguez on his touring and record sales. The music business is a cutthroat way to make a dollar and I believe Rick would be the perfect choice for achieving financial rewards for Rodriguez and his families future. Using the term “sacrament” in his discussion in the movie leads me to believe he is also catholic?


    2. I was late to the party in finding the film, Gary; hence, my comment arriving four years after your post. I agree with your analysis. I found R.E to be compelling in his own right with his articulation of Rodriguez’.


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