When the crowd in the arena rose, whistling, cheering and applauding at the appearance of this legend of our youths, it seemed like an historic moment in the making. Barely able to see, Sixto Rodriguez was lead onto the stage by his daughter and an assistant, put on a top hat and began to sing in a remarkably young, robust voice.
This voice of our youth, might have needed a little help getting there but contrary to the rumors was not frail at all. He played the songs we love, Sugarman,I Wonder, Inner City Blues, Crucify Your Mind and we all thank him for that. But the moments were more mystery than history: if you came to understand the magic of Rodriguez and recapture the strange mixture of dread and rebellion that his music stood for South Africans during apartheid – you didn’t get it there.
On the other hand, if you read on, you just might get it here.
It turns out that Rodriguez is a very sweet natured man – think Paarl Perlé on a breezy night – and while he played his obligatory hits from his first albums and acknowledged the many South Africans in the audience, this was no South African show. He never discussed the songs, there was no commentary, no lingering with choruses or any attempt to engage the audience. We didn’t get to revisit the strange rebelliousness he represented for white South Africans in the 70’s and 80’s – the world they comfortably hated and knew to be wrong but whose alternative was just too hard to confront.
He just sang them so he could gt them out of the way to sing what he really wanted. It turns out, the old prophet of destruction yearned to be a classic, early sixties blues rock crooner and his greatest joy was playing songs like Lucille and A Whole Lotta Shaking Going On. His younger back up band reveled in those standards and despite needed to huddle between songs, played those old rock licks like they grew up with them. This could be the top group at any State Fair. As Sixto said in his wisecracking patter, he didn’t want to be a great legend, “just an ordinary legend.”
Read more at http://whiteshaka.blogspot.com/2013/10/rodriguez-brooklyn-concert-bob-dylan.html
I wondered if you had gone to SA for Nelson Mandela’s funeral ? Your songs were so instrumental in keeping the revolution alive.
Hope you are in good health. I’m revisiting all your songs again and love them even more than before. Greetings from Montpelier, VT.
I want to see you again in Concert! Tell me when and where? I will even travel if need be! YOU are just awesome, humble and I so look forward to getting to know everything I can … I drove by your house this weekend in Detroit! So amazing.. I take you music an introduce it to hundreds of people on every cruise I take!!
Thank you for the ‘review’. I found a few short clips on youtube of the NYC concerts and was so pleased to see Rodriguez healthy and in good voice. The European tour of summer clips showed the toil of touring. I pray he will rest, write and rise up again to share his gifts with us. Truly an amazing human being.
I used to think Pink Floyd’s music and lyrics were socially and politically charged (Dark Side to The Final Cut). Mr. Sixto Rodriguez’s music and lyrics take action, revolt, civilly disobey, and stop your ears in their tracks like if you actually saw a fuckin Unicorn, a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow, a mermaid, or God him/her-self. I have caught a lot of flack for loving this music, lyrics, and after hours of researching interviews and articles the man himself, too much. It is an honor to have a chance to listen to his [Rodriguez] music, hear his voice and lyrics, and experience the fire he lights in me to write meaningful/powerful music. Simply, ‘WOW.” This man is humble, über-talented, and a true role-model for all human beings.
Cheers to you!!!!! Love love love his music. One of the few gems that Detroit should be proud of!!!