A Question for the Americans about Rodriguez

Is there anyone here who can tell me why Rodriguez, (www.sugarman.org) a Detroit-born musician, never made it big in the US? What was it do you imagine about his music which America found so unacceptable or just unappealing?

He has a big following across Australasia and South Africa but not in his own land.

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that I believe that his lack of promotion in the States is the most bewildering oversight in rock history.

Check out the lyrics to Cause below. I can only guess that the unstated question (to which the song is his doleful reply) is something like "Why do you see life as a tragedy?"

Cause,
I lost my job two weeks before Christmas
And I talked to Jesus at the sewer
And the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business
While the rain drank champagne

My Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted
Cause:
the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I've never tasted
Oh
but they'll take their bonus pay to Molly McDonald,
Neon ladies, beauty is that which obeys, is bought or borrowed

Cause
my heart's become a crooked hotel full of rumours
But it's I who pays the rent for these fingered-face out-of-tuners
and I make 16 solid half hour friendships every evening

Cause
your queen of hearts who is half a stone
And likes to laugh alone is always threatening you with leaving
Oh
but they play those token games on Willy Thompson
And give a medal to replace the son of Mrs. Annie Johnson

Cause
they told me everybody's got to pay their dues
And I explained that I had overpaid them
So overdued I went to the company store
and the clerk there said that they had just been invaded
So I set sail in a teardrop and escaped beneath the doorsill

Cause
the smell of her perfume echoes in my head still
Cause
I see my people trying to drown the sun
In weekends of whiskey sours
Cause
how many times can you wake up
in this comic book and plant flowers?


Check out some of his classics (if you can find them)

Crucify your mind
Sugar Man
Inner City Blues
I wonder
Jane S. Piddy
Establishment Blues
Cause
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
I have never heard of him and I worked in record stores for years (I guess the kids call then music stores now?)

I see that he has a big following in Australia. Have any Aussies here ever heard of him?

Bill
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
I worked in a music store for awhile and have spent many hours listening to all kinds of music with friends... And I also have never heard of him.

Maybe its about marketing? There's all kinds of acts that are marketed differently outside of the states, even if they are American. I'm gonna look into him, though. Like the lyrics! Thanks!

Edit: Ah... I see. He's way before my time. That's why I personally have never heard of him.
 
Ask Toni K, X and a thousand other great musicians who never made the airwaves.
That said, I'll check him out to have an infomed opinion.
For what its worth, corporate AR hacks, drugs, booze and girls who's name rhymes with Yoko) are usually reasons for (relative ) anonymity.
No one south of the border has heard of the Forgotten Rebels.
 
True. My claims about Rodriguez are a bit hyperbolic, I must accept... after all many other would've-been-greats have suffered as much, if not more, unjustified disregard... but they are made due to my respect for the man and my desire to assist him, in my own small way, find a wider appreciation. For me, the lyrics of Cause (cos), with which I started this thread, when sung have a haunting and agonizingly beautiful poignancy and I can listen to them over and over. They seem to express a sadness, a disappointment with the world, without descending into self-pity.

Thanks for taking the time to consider listening to Rodriguez and I hope you enjoy his music when you track him down.
 
No worries. Glad you enjoyed it.

I read that you might be a Pogues fan. They do a great rendition of a popular Aussie anti-war song - you might like. It's about the Gallipoli campaign during the first world war which is one of the most important and defining moments in Australian and New Zealand history and sense of identity.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
No worries. Glad you enjoyed it.

I read that you might be a Pogues fan. They do a great rendition of a popular Aussie anti-war song - you might like. It's about the Gallipoli campaign during the first world war which is one of the most important and defining moments in Australian and New Zealand history and sense of identity.
Most Pogues songs are amazing (Especially the great song "Bottle of Smoke"!). Just don't be fooled by buying any post Shane Pogues. It is not the same band....

Bill
 

chronic

old and in the way
I saw The Pogues at UCLA after Shane MacGowan was fired and they were still a pretty great band and they put on a good show. Of course, something was lacking, but I had no major complaints.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Don't get me wrong. They are all talented, but to me, Shane was the Pogues. Did they play songs that Shane had written?

Bill
 

chronic

old and in the way
It's been a long time and my memory is pretty bad, but I think that they did. I do remember that they played a lot of the traditional stuff from their earlier albums.
 

Johannes

Founding member
I recently watched this:

Sugar Man.jpg


It's a bit melodramatic at times, but still very interesting. The guy is a very talented lyricist and singer, there is no question of that. That he didn't make it bigger in the US is strange, but not the all-mystery working against the laws of nature it is made up to. There are a lot of very talented lyricists and singers out there who never made it big.

He got very famous in South Africa during the Apartheid, that's the really interesting part. While he was a blue collar worker in the US, without ever knowing about his fame until 20 years later. Bigger as Elvis down there in the 70's, the documentary says. Nobody knows where the money from his South African record sells went. Somebody must have gotten it.

There was a rumor that he was dead, had killed himself on stage during a concert. That is a nice one. But in reality he was living in Detroit all his live, working in construction, raising his daughters. In the 90's some journalists found him, he went to South Africa and played before thousands of people there. The internet would have killed all this mystery pretty easily, but back in the early 90's-analog-times it all was possible.

I like his songs, he got compared to Bob Dylan a lot. You can see why.

 
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