The Songs of Rodriguez

“…Climb up on my music and my songs will set you free…”

Originally appeared on SugarMan.org

Sugar Man

Probably Rodriguez’s most well-known song. Rodriguez himself is also often referred to as The Sugar Man. A great song with superb instrumentation. This slow bluesy rock song is a paean to his drug dealer, however Rodriguez said on a TV interview in March 1998 that this song is “descriptive not prescriptive”. Great imagery and use of hippy slang, like “silver magic ships” and “sweet Mary Jane”, ensure the listeners’ interest. The psychedelic freak-out section in the middle reminds me of similar sections in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Uriah Heep’s ‘Gypsy’.
– Brian Currin, 1998

Cold Fact” opens with the ultra trippy Sugar Man, which may well have been straight out of an acid trip. “Sugar man met a false friend on a lonely dusty road, lost my heart, when I found it, it had turned to dead black coal” suggests just where exactly the inspiration came from as he goes on to list jumpers, coke and sweet Mary Jane. More than any other Rodriguez song, it is Sugar Man which personifies the artist in the minds of those who have always wondered. The eerie moog synthesizer, whistling in the background, the lazy and simple guitar chords and the dreamy nasal voice place the listener firmly in an era of fantasy. It sets a perfect tone for the album and the myth.
– Andrew Bond, 1998

I’m not for drugs, I never advocated drug taking
– Rodriguez, March 1998

What’s that song about anyway?
– Rodriguez, 22 September 2001

This track was the first encore song on the 1998 South African tour. It was preceded by much chanting of “Su-gar Man, Su-gar Man…”. Were we calling for the song or the Man? Who knows, but he came and he sang and we loved it.

South African band Just Jinger also did a great cover of this song on their March 1998 EP “Something For Now”.

There have also been cover versions recorded by American band The Monkey Wrench and Australian band Stella One Eleven.

Kris Kristofferson recorded a completely different song called “Sugar Man” in 1972. Released on the “Jesus Was A Capricorn” album.

In 1991 The Escape Club also recorded a song titled “Sugar Man” (no relation to the Rodriguez song) on their “Dollars And Sex” CD.

In 2001 Rapper Nas sampled “Sugar Man” for his “You’re Da Man” track off “Stillmatic”.

In the December 2002 issue of UK music mag, MOJO, in the list “The 100 Greatest Drug Songs Ever!” “Sugarman” was at number 34.

You’d Like To Admit It

Extremely rare b-side of a seven single recorded in 1967 and credited to Rod Riguez.

I Wonder

This classic folk-rock song is the one that most people seem to associate with Rodriguez. Used as the show opener on the 1998 and 2001 SA tours. Simple in composition but penetrating in it’s lyrics.

It came as no surprise then that when “Cold Fact” hit the record racks, it became a hit, simply because it contained a phrase which would muddy the country’s sexually chaste waters and serve as a mantra to the youth: I wonder, how many times you’ve had sex…
– Craig Bartholomew, 1997

Generation EXT’s slow hip-hop rap version of I Wonder was released on the compilation CD “Dance Connexion 17” in September 1998.

Only Good For Conversation

Classic fuzz metal guitar riff by Dennis Coffey opens this song, reminds me of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’. A harsh bitter song of lost love (..you’re the coldest bitch I know..), this track really rocks! Great bass line and a superb guitar solo.
– Brian Currin, 1998

Climb Up On My Music

My favourite Rodriguez song and also one of my all-time favourite songs. Brilliant title and great lyrics. Excellent rock guitar from Chris Spedding and jazzy piano (by Phil Dennys?) make this song a classic. Wonderful production by Steve Rowland and superb stereo imaging.
Listen to it!!

When performed live on the 1998 South African tour this track became a classic rock song of anthemic proportions. Willem Möller’s guitar solo is one of my magic moments in music.
– Brian Currin, 1998

Sandrevan Lullaby

A wonderful instrumental duet for acoustic guitar and violin. Used as the intro for “Lifestyles”. Written by Rodriguez for his 2 daughters, Sandra and Eva. Sometimes mistitled as Sundrevan Lullaby.

…the musical part of Sandrevan Lullaby touches my heart (named after my sister Sandra and me)…
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997

Rehearsed for the 1998 SA tour, but not performed (I know ‘coz I was there!)
– Brian Currin, 1998

Rich Folks Hoax

Great song, what more can I say – listen to the words.

Craig Bartholomew told me that in 1987 when he was busking his way around Spain, this song received the best response, and the most money into his open guitar case!

Covered by Amanda Strydom in September 2003.
– Brian Currin, 2003

Hate Street Dialogue

Not written by Rodriguez, but sure sounds like it could have been. “Hate Street Dialogue” actually refers to the famous “Haight/Ashbury” area of San Francisco, the famous Hippie hang-out during the late 60s “Summer Of Love”.

…for years the title Hate Street Dialogue has been bothering me, when I listened to the song I gathered the lyrics were referring to the famous hippie street in San Francisco: Haight/Ashbury, however the title on the album is spelt “Hate”. Rodriguez said (on a South African radio phone-in show in March 1998) that although the lyrics of that particular song were not written by himself they did refer to the Haight and not to the opposite of love.
– Stelios, 1998

Read the full amazing story of Hate Street Dialogue.

Jane S Piddy

Could this be “Janis Pity” – a sort of tribute to Janis Joplin? Read the lyrics and see the similarity to Janis and her lifestyle. Lyrics like “now you sit there thinking, feeling insecure…” and “…don’t bother to buy insurance, coz you’ve already died…”. Great imagery and biting prose. Read more about this song and ‘Like Janis’.

To Whom It May Concern (1979 live version)

A wonderful, almost progressive rock version with jazz-blues flute and even a bass solo. Recorded in Australia in 1979. This track is over 8 minutes long and the band is introduced on this song.
Really great version.

Heikki’s Suburbia Bus Tour

After a conversation with my father, I wanted to share a short story…

In the sixties, there were these people called hippies. It can be said that a long hair, dark skin, free thinking musician, like Rodriguez could have been labelled one. In my youth, I recall hearing about how the “rich folks” (those living in the suburbs), would come down to the inner city of Detroit to actually see these “oddities” in their natural environment. Maybe even take a picture or two. This happened to be my neighborhood and some of my people.

Rodriguez had a very good friend named Heikki. I remember a large man with long blond/brown hair. He had a very nice home, a wife named Linda and two huge bull mastiff dogs. Despite stereotypes, Heikki was a mathematician from “Estonia” (Estonia is a republic in North-Eastern Europe, near Finland) who rode a classic motorcycle. In fact, one of the places that Rodriguez played, a “motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki’s friends. The motorcycle club was called “The Penetrators”.

Anyway, someone had made fun of Rodriguez’s friend. Protective of Heikki’s feelings, Rodriguez organized what I consider to be a peaceful form of retaliation. A bus was chartered, full of hippies, four gallons of wine, etc. The group went to Grosse Point, Michigan and surrounding areas where they visited suburbian malls and neighborhoods on a tour of their own. The rest, is in the music. The story made the newspapers in Detroit and also reached Florida (a southern U.S. state).
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997

A Most Disgusting Song

In “A Most Disgusting Song” the people are like someone we all know. I think it was a depiction of a place Rodriguez played, a bar called “The Sewer” near the Detroit River, that was demolished a long time ago (In the song “Cause” Rodriguez speaks to Jesus (his brother?) at the Sewer). One of the places that Rodriguez played, a “motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki’s friends. The motorcycle club was called “The Penetrators”.
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997

Interview with Mr. Rodriguez

Dear Rodriguez Team,

My name is Milan M.A. Gonzales, based in Berlin Germany. I’m a cultural correspondent and contributor with Pagina Siete, the leading independent daily newspaper from Bolivia, South America.

I’m writing to you as l’d like to schedule a 20-30-minute phone interview (conference call) with Mr. Rodriguez before Christmas if it’s possible.

Also wondering if Mr. Rodriguez speaks spanish.

What would work best for Mr. Rodriguez. In case you’d like to suggest any day/time, we’ll be flexible.

Many thanks in advance for your feedback.

Best,
Milan M.A. Gonzales

P.S. For more information, please enter the link of one of the interviews from this series. It was an interview with Mr. Gillan from Deep Purple.

https://www.paginasiete.bo/cultura/2020/11/8/ian-gillan-de-deep-purple-la-paz-me-impacto-social-culturalmente-274201.html#!

Sugar Man song featured in trailer for “Moffie” film

The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. The threat of communism and “die swart gevaar” (the black danger) is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit.

MOFFIE, is the 4th film by director Oliver Hermanus. It is produced by South African-born producer Eric Abraham who produced the Academy Award-winning films – Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (2014) and Jan Sverak’s Kolya (1996) and Jack Sidey of Portobello Productions. It is based on the memoir, Moffie, by Andre-Carl van der Merwe and tells the story of a conscript who embarks on his military service in 1981 South Africa. In local theatres on 13 March 2020.

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Sugar Man song featured in trailer for “Moffie” film

The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. The threat of communism and “die swart gevaar” (the black danger) is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit.

MOFFIE, is the 4th film by director Oliver Hermanus. It is produced by South African-born producer Eric Abraham who produced the Academy Award-winning films – Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (2014) and Jan Sverak’s Kolya (1996) and Jack Sidey of Portobello Productions. It is based on the memoir, Moffie, by Andre-Carl van der Merwe and tells the story of a conscript who embarks on his military service in 1981 South Africa. In local theatres on 13 March 2020.

Follow us on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/moffiefilm/

https://www.instagram.com/moffiefilm/

https://twitter.com/moffiefilm

Oscar-winning documentary gets extended-play treatment | Winnipeg Free Press

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/oscar-winning-documentary-gets-extended-play-treatment-367083501.html

The story of Sixto Rodriguez as depicted in the Academy Award-winning 2012 documentarySearching for Sugar Man was one that intrigued the world.

The plot centred around Rodriguez, a musician based out of Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s, who was never able to gain traction in the United States despite numerous industry professionals comparing his songwriting chops to those of Bob Dylan — but perhaps even better.

But more than a story about a musician who somehow sadly flew so far under the radar, the film — and now the book, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez — are about a man who unknowingly became the soundtrack for a revolution half a world away. His first album, Cold Fact, became immensely popular in South Africa during the time of apartheid, unbeknownst to the singer himself.

The film follows two South African men as they search for Rodriguez (the name Sugar Man references a line in one of his songs), who was presumed to be dead. Once they discover he’s alive and well and living in Detroit, they take him to South Africa to perform for thousands of fans and to give him a taste of the life he should have had.

Written by Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen (Sugar) Segerman, two men who play a large role in the film, Sugar Man is an exhaustively detailed account of all that happened before, during and after the time frame covered in the film. Segerman’s first encounter with a Rodriguez song while doing his mandatory time in the army, Rodriguez’s multiple stints in local politics, the eventual suicide of director Malik Bendajelloul not long after the film won an Academy Award — every conversation, every email, Sugar Man covers it all.

The book is broken up into four sections — the mystery, the man, the music and the movie — which is very helpful given the amount of voices and storylines that weave together to create the narrative picture as a whole.

On occasion, however, all the details and historic references do become overwhelming, and are not always necessary in order to move the story forward. In certain instances, it feels more productive to skim over those parts instead of reading word for word.

The most interesting tidbits are those excluded from the film (or that hadn’t happened until after the film was made), namely the fact that after his initial shows in South Africa, Rodriguez toured the country several more times in the early and mid-2000s with varying success, and the surprising falling out between Segerman and Rodriguez spurred by Segerman’s move into a more managerial role.

For those who loved the documentary, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez is an excellent companion piece that bookends the film beautifully, answering any and all questions one may have about the lives of all those involved, both pre- and post-documentary.

In the prologue of the book, Strydom and Segerman say the film was “the search for the man who didn’t know he was lost.” This book proves to be the rest of the story we didn’t know we were missing.

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer at the Free Press.

‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez opens Montreux Jazz Festival | Reuters

 U.S. folk singer Sixto Rodriguez performs during the first night of the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival July 4, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

U.S. folk singer Sixto Rodriguez performs during the first night of the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival July 4, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

(Reuters) – American singer-songwriter Sixto “Sugar Man” Rodriguez, virtually unknown a few years ago, opened the Montreux Jazz Festival on Thursday, which American producer and its former co-director Quincy Jones calls the “Rolls Royce of music festivals.”

Fresh from the Glastonbury festival in Britain last weekend, Rodriguez gave a Fourth of July concert in the Swiss resort, mixing songs from his two albums that never made the charts with borrowed tunes including the classic rock’n’roll hit “Fever.”

The Detroit-based singer, whose lyrics evoke the folksy sound of Bob Dylan, is the shy subject of “Searching for Sugar Man,” a film by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul that tells the incredible story of his fame late in life. It won the Oscar for best documentary this year.

Read more at ‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez opens Montreux Jazz Festival | Reuters.

Rodriguez is sweeter than sugar, man | StarTribune.com

Rodriguez | Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune
Rodriguez | Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

He seemed frail when escorted onstage by two women Wednesday at the sold-out Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. But then he put on his dark-tinted glasses, his floppy black hat and his beige guitar and suddenly he transformed into Rodriguez, musician of mystery, melancholy and that Oscar-winning movie.

“Searching for Sugar Man,” which took the Academy Award this year for best documentary, told the story of an obscure Detroit folk-rock singer whose two albums from the early 1970s had somehow made him into a beloved cult hero in South Africa. Two obsessive fans there started searching for the singer, thought to be dead, and not only found him in Detroit but then brought him to South Africa for a series of major concerts in the late 1990s. It was all filmed and eventually turned into a 2012 movie.

It’s a fascinating story and a terrific footnote in rock history — that Rodriguez’s career was relaunched by an Oscar-honored movie.

And Rodriguez’s concert at the Fitzgerald was as winning as the movie. Maybe more so.

Read more at Rodriguez is sweeter than sugar, man | StarTribune.com.

Rodriguez In New York: ‘Sugar Man’ Star Pleases Fans At Beacon Theatre | Huffington Post

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

NEW YORK — Sixto Diaz Rodriguez can’t hit the high notes like he used to, but that didn’t matter to his fans.

The 70-year-old singer made famous by the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” performed Sunday night to a worshipful crowd at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre.

The folk-rocker was at his best performing his own songs, like “I Wonder,” with the catchy line, “I wonder how many times you had sex,” and a slightly jazzy version of his beautiful, mournful ballad “I Think of You.”

Read more at Rodriguez In New York: ‘Sugar Man’ Star Pleases Fans At Beacon Theatre.

Rodriguez – Sugar Man (RocknRolla Soundsystem Edit)

Sixto Rodríguez is an American folk musician from Detroit. His career initially proved short-lived with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s. Unbeknownst to him, however, his work became extremely successful and influential in South Africa, although there he was mistakenly rumoured to have committed suicide. The full story is reflected in the 2012 Oscar winning documentary: Searching for Sugar Man.

This retreat is done with respect to the original by RocknRolla Soundsystem and Joris Vos

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