Wish I still had the show, if only to play some cuts off of this brilliant album.
Like a lot of people who are (finally) waking up to America’s best kept secret, Sixto Rodriguez’s music, I caught Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul soul stirring documentary, Searching for Sugar Man last week (run, don’t walk!).
Born and raised on the mean streets of Detroit, Chicano poet-musician Sixto Rodriguez was/is the real deal. With songwriting that rivals greats (and personal favorites) like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and perhaps even a bit of Nick Drake, his musical efforts in the late 60’s and early 70’s, somehow went unnoticed and unappreciated, at least in his home country. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, only South Africa and Australia/New Zealand recognized his genius from the beginning. But all of that is beginning to change now thanks to the film.
Cold Fact was released in 1970 on the now-defunct Sussex label and did diddly squat on the U.S. charts at the time of its release. But one wonders how this musically rich, lyrically complex and altogether singular album flew under the radar for so damn long. Was it racism that kept Rodriguez off the charts? Was America not ready for a Latino Dylan at the time? Rodriguez is not Dylan though. He is totally without affectation or pretense, unconcerned with image and press, or even getting his due. He is a humble (yet totally enigmatic) poet and a true man of the people, who never left the Detroit streets he grew up on. He spent the past 40 years doing back-breaking hard labor and quietly performing his music for an audience of none. His is the story of dreams finally coming true and of the good guy coming out on top.