How does one review a movie when the mere act would give the story away? With the sensitive nature of this story in the forefront of my mind, I tread lightly in respect of the movie’s essence. In saying that, if you haven’t already, I thoroughly recommend watching this fascinating and captivating documentary, as fascinating and captivating as the man himself. The life of Sixto Rodriguez.
With all the makings of an overnight success, the wandering spirit, Rodriguez, roamed the streets akin to a homeless man, one who certainly had other ideas about his future. In 1968, at the height of apartheid in the military state of Capetown, South Africa, where ‘coloured people’ were marginalized and excluded from white privileges, a humble, deep thinking enigma of a man from Detroit began sharing his poetic insights in song…
“You can keep your symbols of success
I’ll make my own happiness”
“I was born for the purpose
That crucifies your mind
Giving substance to shadows
Giving substance evermore”
Rodriguez chose to work in the construction field and became a voice for the working poor. “He kept finding a place to apply himself. He knew there was something more. He wanted to do something righteous and make a difference.”
Throughout this fascinating documentary a number of record company producers and music historians are interviewed and speak about the life and times of Rodriguez, but it is the eloquent and insightful words of fellow demolition worker, Craig Barthlomew-Strydom who describes the artist as a pioneer. “Rodriguez had a magical quality that all those genuine artists and poets have, to elevate things and get above the mundane and the bullshit of the mediocrity that is everywhere. He demonstrated that we have choice. Like the silkworm, he takes all the pain, confusion and agony and turns it into something beautiful. He takes raw material and comes out with something that wasn’t there before, something transcended, something eternal. Rodriguez represents what’s possible with the human spirit.”
This is a rare story of a true inspiration with the voice of a prophet, Rodriguez is unique, sounding at times like a combination of Don McLean and Bob Dylan, singing straight to the heart, from his soul.
Original songs include:
Crucify your Mind
Can’t Get Away
I Think of You
I’ll Slip Away
I will end with a quote from one of his daughters, “Just because someone has very little, doesn’t mean their dreams aren’t big”.
© Patricia Herreen 2013