“Crucify Your Mind” – Rodriguez
What if I told you that there is a contemporary of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and all of the other 60s and 70s greats that you have never heard of? What if I told you that there was a man who made incredible music, years ahead of the curve, who should be on every “greatest of all time” list but who instead faded into obscurity so fast that literally nobody knew what happened to him.
Well, it’s true.
Some have dubbed Sixto Diaz Rodriguez’s two LPs—Cold Fact (1970) and Coming Out of Reality (1971)—the holy grail of rock and roll. Dating back more than 40 years, these two albums were “dug out of the rubble of U.S. commercial obscurity”.
The digging was done by Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Malik Bendjelloul, who’s documentary about the singer, “Searching for Sugarman”, has been dubbed the film of the year. Astonishing. Life affirming. No wonder—it was produced by the same person as Man on Wire (if you haven’t seen it you should…).
Sixto, commonly know as “Rodriguez”, was dropped from his label after his album sales underperformed (at last, a flaw in the golden age of music). But somehow a few of his albums made it to South Africa. There, they travelled the underground, were bootlegged and copied, and went absolutely 1970s viral. This was before the Internet and before there was much communication with or about South Africa. It was so pre-information age that his music went on to unite the South African people and help end apartheid, all without Rodriguez—working construction in Detroit with no plans to return to music—ever knowing it.
Years later, Rodriguez was presumed dead. There are many different versions of his death but suffice it to say that to Rodriguez fans (from South Africa plus a few very obscure music geeks in the states), Rodriguez was Jim Morrison. A dead legend. Lost and gone forever.
Imagine if tomorrow you found out that Jim Morrison was still alive. That’s what happened with Rodriguez.
41 years later, he is on his first tour, and it is massive (talk about a 70 year old making up for lost time!).
Perhaps you will hear him sing “Crucify Your Mind”, today’s selection off of the album Cold Fact, in a small venue right around the corner.
Note: the video in this is not actually associated with the song (it’s scenes from an Ingmar Bergman film) but I do find it rather lovely.
Props to Hollywood Phil for introducing me to the sugar man.