Cape Town is where the Jim Morrison of South Africans came back to life.
I am talking about Rodriguez of course!
The story of how two South Africans went searching to find out how he had indeed ‘died’ became famous in the Oscar winning documentary Searching For Sugarman.
The disbelief of his daughters as a packed audience of five thousand or so South Africans, spanning all generations, exploded into applause as their father rose from the dead like Lazarus and appeared on stage in Cape Town will make even the hardest hearted of us cry.
Imagine … your father is an unknown laborer in a decaying city in North America, and in Southern Hemisphere countries, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, he is a musical God!?
In the 70s, up there with the Beatles, greater than Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan, way above the Rolling Stones, South African youth listened to the soulful lyrics of the giant they knew as Rodriguez.
As lovers of classical music may prefer Mozart to Beethoven or one of any number of great composers to some other, there is unanimity when it comes to Bach … who would dispute Bach!?
In the same way that is how we saw Rodriguez, one could love the Moody Blues and scoff at Uriah Heep (actually I love both) but no one would dispute Rodriguez … !
Sanctioned and isolated as we were, decades before the Smart Phone and the Internet, censored by our Apartheid government who did not look kindly on the Humanity of Rodriguez, we just assumed the whole world knew of him, and that we were among the last to discover him! It sounds bizarre and impossible, but in an extraordinary real story, Rodriguez was bypassed by his societies and resonated with the youth of a small, polecat nation on the other side of the world! His records sold in volumes greater than any other contemporary musicians with perhaps the exception of the Beatles – and he never knew about it due to some strange murkiness in the music industry.
Then probably to remove him from our minds the Apartheid government may have started a rumour that he had killed himself and a nation went into mourning for two decades plus …
And one day he returned from the dead … fairy tales do not come better than that … !!!
See the movie if you do not know the story and I dare you to deny that you wept with joy at the end …
The only dark aspect is the tragic passing away of the director of the documentary, Malik Bendjelloul – surely to have conceived of directing such a story must make Malik one of the purest Souls that have ever walked this Earth!?
But beauty is both delicate and fragile … Rodriguez and Malik respectively.
I have yet to physically visit Mabu Vinyl, http://www.mabuvinyl.co.za/, the now famous Cape Town music and book store tucked into Rheede Street, just off Kloof Street in Gardens.
This is an iconic landmark of the search for Sugarman
However, one of my favorite web sites to visit has become: http://sugarman.org/
And in particular, the page: http://sugarman.org/forum.html
Every month or two I visit this page and read the comments that have flowed in, from all over the world, from any and all cultures, creeds, colors …
Again, it will take the hardest of hearts not to become emotional, to witness how what is a de facto living saint has touched the hearts of people all over the world …
People who have never heard of Rodriguez happen to see the documentary because someone suggested it, or just because they happen to see it inadvertently, and are left stunned in awe that such a fairy tale is indeed a reality.
They search online and discover the web site – and a place to say what they have to say …
The world is in many ways an ugly place – in the hearts of some are the darkest black holes of the Universe; when one has had enough one needs to find the green of hope, the delicate green stems of new growth, springing up even in the most barren of the barren.
That is when you should visit the page, and sense the common humanity that flows in the vast majority of all of us, no matter who we are and where we come from …
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti