I wonder what would have happened to this mysterious musician without such a loyal fan base … wonder I do

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After all these years ... seeing Sixto Rodriguez live (Photo: Chesney Bradshaw © 2013)
After all these years … seeing Sixto Rodriguez live (Photo: Chesney Bradshaw © 2013)

It’s the music. Compelling music that broke through the heavy metal and pop of the seventies.

Music that spoke almost in one mysterious riddle that helped unlock the angst of our youth … growing up in a time with seething below the surface … awakening to a perspective streetwise, injured, cynical yet alluringly beautiful.

I wonder how many times I listened to Sixto Rodriguez’s music until I finally saw him playing live at Carnival City in Johannesburg.

After watching “Searching for Sugar Man” on Saturday I was left with a sense of mystery, unable to make sense of this improbable story of this singer-songwriter who made two albums Cold Fact (1970) and “Coming from Reality” (1971) and then disappeared like a phantom.

Seeing him live I was struck by his Zen-like chuckling, the delicacy of his music and the voice that never died despite being ignored in his home country.

Later upfront at the stage I was mesmerized by his guitar playing, strumming notes with his small finger .. brushing the strings of his guitar in a motion that seemed to be an extension of the love in his soul.

I’ve not seen hand-crafted, artisanal music like this before … and from a man who has been weathered by age and hard labour rather than the ravages of drugs and booze (fame which alluded him for four decades kept him untouched from ego-driven excesses).

In the seventies as a boy growing up in a fishing village, taking my rowboat along the coastline, fishing the gullies with light tackle from the rocks and surfing Kalk Bay reef in the late afternoons, the songs and lyrics of Rodriguez filled my head, helping me make sense of a depraved world of hurt, sorrow, arrogance and the cold reality of unjust laws and class snobbery.

I usually say something about inspiration for the smaller business and start-up in these posts but for once I won’t.

As much as I have been influenced and inspired by the music of Sixto Rodriguez, I am awestruck by the immense power of his loyal fan base. They loved him so much that they helped resurrect him from obscurity so all of us could experience the wonder and dignity of this beautiful musician, mysterious poet healer, father and human being.


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Chesney Bradshaw

My tribute to the strength of human spirit that Sixto Rodriguez inspires:

I Wonder

I wonder about all the dreams that you had
And I wonder if you must have been sad
I wonder when you knew how much we cared
And I wonder if you were ever scared
I wonder I wonder wonder I do

I wonder how many times we’ve listened to you
And I wonder how you made you music so true
I wonder how your story touched us all
And I wonder do you know how you enthrall
I wonder I wonder wonder I do

I wonder about all the beauty you gave
And I wonder why your home country didn’t rave
I wonder how you kept your spirit alive
I wonder how your beauty survived
I wonder I wonder wonder don’t you?

I wonder what your story challenges us to do
And I wonder when we’ll start something new
I wonder how much we all could learn
And I wonder how soon before our hearts burn
I wonder I wonder wonder I do
Copyright © 2013

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