Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Since his two albums were monumental flops, Sixto Rodriguez spent most of his life as a construction worker, building and destroying. His music did the same. It built ideologies and hope in South Africa, and at the same time helped destroy Apartheid. Never in my life have I found a better suitor for the title of 'unknown legend.'


Discover a torn chapter in the book of folk music.

[do action=”play-by-play-spoilers”/]

[do action=”moment” emo=”Quotable” title=”‘The only writer that I had heard of, of that time period, was maybe Bob Dylan'”/]

This sets the bar pretty high, doesn’t it?

[do action=”moment” emo=”Cool” title=”Let music do its thing.”/]

We’re given a good listening session of ‘Crucify Your Mind,’ one of Sixto’s most recognized songs. The sober video accompanying the music allows us to focus on the lyrics. Well done!

[do action=”moment” emo=”Sad” title=”Unsung singer.”/]

By now, Rodriguez’s story is one of the saddest I’ve ever heard in the history of music. Everyone is adamant when they say that he had everything to become famous, but it simply didn’t turn out that way. Why did he go unnoticed when other less skilled artists found fame and glory? No one really knows. It’s as if the stars simply weren’t aligned for him.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Smart” title=”South African history 101.”/]

Apartheid is explained so nicely here; even if you never knew about it, you do now. All the oppression, the restrictions, the injustice. No wonder Sixto’s music and lyrics became popular. The people needed change. Rodriguez sang about change.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Frustrating” title=”One more reason to love computers.”/]

Sigh… The pre-Internet world sure was difficult sometimes. We’re given multiple examples on how the lack of communication and diminished access to information kept Rodriguez from being famous. Now, excuse me while I hug my router.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Infuriating” title=”One more reason to hate the music industry.”/]

OK, so not only was the pre-Internet world a problem when it came to promotion, but his own label ripped him off as well? I’m starting to believe there’s a curse on him.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Quotable” title=”‘Oh, it was much bigger than the Rolling Stones!'”/]

When it is uttered in such a spontaneous manner, no matter how bold the statement, you know he’s telling the truth.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Bitchy” title=”From comfortable to agitated in 3, 2…”/]

How could you believe Clarence Avant’s story when the man is so aggressive when confronted by the fact that Rodriguez didn’t get any money from the albums he sold in South Africa? The documentary doesn’t make him look bad; he manages to do it all by himself.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Happy” title=”Jesus Rodriguez is resurrected!”/]

So, Rodriguez was alive after all! The joy expressed by those who searched for him is contagious. And they actually got to talk to and eventually meet their idol. What a thrill it must have been to share a phone call with the person who has inspired you as a teenager.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Heartbreaking” title=”Missed opportunities.”/]

Looking at Rodriguez today is just sad. Knowing that he’s still alive and kicking is just enough to make it tolerable. Deep inside, we know he’s not where he should be. The man is poor. The images of him walking with difficulty through the snow poetically describes how he lived a life bombarded by misfortune.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Triumphant” title=”Gratitude, at last.”/]

Now that we have bonded with Sixto, we have no difficulty understanding how glorious it must have been for him and his family to do this series of concerts in Cape Town. This is the kind of scenario Hollywood can’t dream up.

2 Comments on Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

  1. jennifer

    I just watched the first it seemed sad and maybe depressing that this amazing man lives in such basic surroundings, but knowing he gives his concert money to friends and family..and the serenity and grace that eminates from his being..i think he may be richer than us all. it may not be an injustice from above that his talents were slow to reach the rest of the world, I thinkthe poeers that be were saving the best for last. So thankful I got to experience this man, if only through a movie and his songs. Much love to you, Sixto!!

  2. Thank you for the comment. I hope you enjoy the site.

    You are so right. This is a movie about perception, redemption and, most of all, spirituality. Bendjelloul could have went for the straight up documentary of Rodriguez’s secret fame, but he chose to go about the subject matter with grace and insight. I still can’t believe the director committed suicide and I’m incredibly sad we won’t be seeing anything else from him.

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