Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New (Old) Music Tuesday: Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez, 1970

Born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, Sixto Rodriguez is a American folk singer of Mexican immigrant parents whose records, Cold Fact (Sussex, 1970) and Coming From Reality (Sussex, 1971), have had an enormous impact on me. I have such admiration for Rodriguez' ability to put marginalized and unorthodox stories into beautiful words with lush melodies and arrangements. His two lone LP releases boast impeccable playlists of song after entrancing song that would take even Bob Dylan to task. Rodriguez is folk music at its best, and it's a complete shame that until now he's never received the U.S. appreciation he's deserved. 

This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues

Thankfully, it seems Rodriguez may be getting his moment thanks to a new documentary, Searching For Sugar Mandirected by Malik BendjelloulAs this is New (Old) Music Tuesday, I'm going to focus on Rodriguez's music, but you can learn more about Bendjelloul's documentary, which has been garnering rave reviews while on the film festival circuit at Sundance and SXSW and was recently picked up by Sony Classicshere. I can't wait to see it myself.

"Cause," Sixto Rodriguez, Coming From Reality, (Sussex, 1971)

I don't know that I can honestly pick any one song and say it's my favorite Rodriguez tune. He is truly a masterful songwriter, and anything you can drop your turntable needle is sure to blow you away. "Cause" (Coming From Reality) and "This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues" (Cold Fact), (both above) are quintessential folk tunes. Rodriguez's cunning lyrics- 

"Garbage ain't collected/Women ain't protected/Politicians Using/People their abusing"
                          -"This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues," 1970

- are enough to make you wonder if Occupy Wall Street wouldn't benefit from having him up front rallying the masses. He's the kind of artist that makes you question and makes you want to exercise your own voice.

"Silver Words," Sixto Rodriguez, Coming From Reality, (Sussex, 1971)

Even at his most abstract, when he slips into drug-like fantasies on songs like "It Started Out So Nice" (Coming From Reality), Rodriguez has the ability take you with him. The journey through his vision of reality and his hopes for what it could be are as tangible as the clothes you are wearing. You just want to "Slip Away" with him.

"I'll Slip Away" b/w "You'd Like to Admit It," Sixto Rodriguez as Rod Riguez, (Impact, 1967)

Despite how small his released body of work is, there is so much to glean from Sixto Rodriguez' music. I never cease to be amazed by his deft lyricism and his ability to use his voice as both a harpoon and a spring of hope. I've heard rumblings that there may be an album left in Rodriguez to record. I know there are folks trying to get his pen to paper and his voice and guitar in the studio. Based on his recent performances in Brooklyn and SXSW, at 69, I think there's still some magic left to capture.

Thoughts about Sixto Rodriguez? Please share!

Have groovy Tuesday ;)

*If you want to purchase LPs, CDs or mp3's of Cold Fact or Coming From Reality, check out Light in The Attic

1 comment:

  1. Never heard of him before, but I'm really into Sugar Man now. Thanks for sharing!