Jesus died, but now he lives. In Detroit. Sort of.

I was very young when my father discovered Jesus. He was walking around his garden, as was his wont, when he heard Jesus next door. He popped his head over the wall to ask the neighbour who he was listening to, and from that day forth, Jesus became part of our lives.

We knew his every word before we had seen out our first decade. If you asked me now, I could repeat every one to you without even pausing to think about it. It set us in good stead, because most of our peers only discovered Jesus in late high-school, or university, or the army. But one of those weird quirks of history ensured that generation after generation of young white South Africans were all destined to find Jesus eventually.

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And here he is!

I grew up in a very strange time and place. The whole world had spent several hundred years accepting, as a given or at gunpoint, that white people were somehow superior, and had a God-given right to rule the world. But then, slowly, over the last hundred years or so, the tide began to turn. The world began to accept that maybe, just maybe, black people, and Indian people, and Chinese people, and Eskimos, and Aboriginals, and the Irish, might just have the same rights as everyone else.

But not here. Here, the white government took one look at the four million white people they represented, and the forty million black people they didn’t, and decided to dig in their heels. The rest of the world took one look at this and decided to cut us off until we learned to play nicely.

And so I, and millions like me, grew up with an essentially western outlook, but with very little contact with the western world. As I said, it was strange. We were better than we had a right to be at things like rugby and cricket, but no-one wanted to play with us. We read about (or watched on our very restricted TV’s) things like Pepsi and McDonald’s, but only those lucky enough to go overseas ever saw them. And we knew about music. But no-one would come out and play here.

We knew about the one-hit-wonders and the number one bands, the people who would burn bright one week and disappear the next. And we knew about the greats. The legends. The ones who would never be forgotten. Elvis. Led Zeppelin. Bob Marley. The Beatles. Cat Stevens. Bob Dylan. And Rodriguez. Jesus Rodriguez.

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Jesus Rodriguez was a bit of an odd one though. We knew all of his music, but not a single thing about him. The closest thing to him was probably Dylan, a hard-edged beautiful dreamer who somehow pushed through the wall of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll to tell us something important, something meaningful. But there were books about Dylan. You could read about him in magazines. About Jesus Rodriguez, there was nothing but silence. And we knew why.

Jesus Rodriguez produced two brilliant, simple, insightful, haunting albums. And then he killed himself. On stage. In front of thousands. He finished his set, and then quoted one of his most famous songs; “Thanks for your time, and you can thank me for mine, and after that’s said, forget it.” And then he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

It was a powerful moment, and it only added to his legend. He had joined that select few who had winked out of existence at height of their powers. Joplin. Hendrix. Cobain. Rodriguez.

Which is a little surprising, because I saw him play last week.

In the early 90’s, Apartheid fell and the world came rushing in. No more sanctions. No more censorship. And the story of Rodriguez took a bit of an odd turn. It simply wasn’t true. When the walls came down, we could get back in touch with our idols. But we couldn’t get back in touch with Rodriguez. Because he didn’t seem to exist. Australia knew his music. So did New Zealand. But they didn’t know much more than that. And no-one else knew anything at all.

We were all a bit mystified. We had spent generations listening to a global superstar who simply wasn’t there. South Africans have always felt a little bit like country cousins. We’re a little naïve. But the whole Rodriguez story made us feel like the rest of the world was just messing with us.

And then someone invented the internet, and suddenly anyone with a keyboard had the world at their fingertips. And we found him!

Jesus Rodriguez really doesn’t exist. Or rather, Jesus Rodriguez the singer doesn’t exist. The guy we were listening to was called Sixto Rodriguez. Jesus was his brother. He released a couple of albums in the early seventies, and we think they were brilliant. But his music career just didn’t happen. And so he wandered off and became a manual labourer.

And labour he did. He did do a couple of tours to Australia, but for the most part, he set his music aside and made his living fixing roofs and demolishing houses, oblivious to the fact that halfway across the world, there was a nation of strangers worshiping the ground he walked on. It is estimated that he sold about half a million albums here, (which for South Africa is phenomenal, but pales to insignificance next to the number that were pirated), but he never received a cent of the royalties. He just never knew about us.

When he was tracked down in the late nineties, he came on a tour here. He finished fixing a leaky roof in downtown Detroit, climbed on a plane, and was picked up by a limo. He met up with a band who already knew all of his music, note for note, and stepped out into a packed arena. Tens of thousands of screaming fans gave him a standing ovation, almost drowning out the music with their adoration. Then he got back on the plane, flew back to Detroit, and fixed some more roofs. It must have been a little surreal.

That was back in the nineties. Now his story has taken another odd turn. Some Swedish guy came out here looking for something to make a documentary about. As one does. Someone played him some Rodriguez. He liked it. He heard the story I’ve just told you. He liked that too. So much that he made it the subject of his documentary. And it got nominated for an Oscar.

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And now, at long last, Rodriguez is starting to gain the recognition we all thought he had always had. Watch the movie. It will tell you as much about us as it does about him. And you’ll discover some beautiful music. Music that has stood the test of time. Music that has inspired and inflamed and encouraged and moved generations. Music by a roofer. From Detroit. Who should have been something else.

He’s just come out for another tour. We went to see it as a family, not because of the documentary, but because of my father. Because my father loved his music. For thirty odd years, Rodriguez formed part of the soundtrack of our lives. He played it in his car. We introduced our friends to it. We sang it around the fire after a few glasses of wine out in the bush. It was as much a part of the fabric of our family as a favourite dog or a crazy spinster aunt.

And then my father passed away last year. When one of my sisters heard that he was coming out on a tour, she got us tickets. And so, last week, we joined several thousand people on a pilgrimage. Everyone else went there to go and see Rodriguez, the idol of their youth. We went to go and see my father.

It sounds maudlin. It wasn’t. It was bloody magnificent. My father was an unusual man. Unusual things tended to happen around him. And when we went to go and find him at a Rodriguez concert, we had an evening he would have talked about for years.

It started with my brother-in-law. The concert took place in a casino called Carnival City on the far side of town, and my brother-in law drove us there. We asked, as one does after an hour on the road, whether he knew where he was going.

“Yes”, came the response, “I’ve been there once or twice”.

And then he settled into silence. For a while. Until Carnival City appeared on the horizon.

It's not quite as subtle on the inside.

It’s not quite as subtle on the inside.

“I used to work for the firm of architects who designed it.” He said quietly.

Carnival city loomed closer, a huge, concrete circus tent bathed in multi-coloured light.

“I actually did the drawings for a small part of the food court.” Still quietly. We began to grow suspicious.

And then we got there. And understood. Dante could not have written a circle of hell better than this. It was an assault. It was like a fetish club for people who were turned on by primary colours. Haunted looking girls dressed as stripper-clowns directed the public through a forest of swirling red and green and yellow pillars. Tired looking waiters in red tuxedos and tiny green hats leaned for a moment against bright blue and orange walls topped with fibreglass tentacles in pink and turquoise.

It was too much for my brother-in-law. The floodgates burst.

“I did that,” he said, pointing at a Technicolor pillar topped with a jester’s hat.

“And that!” A billowing big top made of suspended yellow and blue material.

“And that! And that! And that!” Purple walls. Candy-striped awnings. Carpets that made the eighties look grey and colourless.

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Subtle understatement is the soul of interior decorating.

By the time we reached the arena, it was clear he had done the whole bloody lot. And had had more than a passing acquaintance with LSD. It was a strange thing to discover about a member of your extended family, and worked wonders for holding any melancholy at bay.

We came to the arena, and made our way in. It wasn’t easy. My mother is no longer young, and has a gammy knee, so we were a little alarmed when the usher led us through what felt like miles of folded chairs and folded legs and dropped handbags and precariously balanced beers. But we eventually made it to our seats. Next to the aisle. Which led directly to the door we had come in through what felt like days ago.

Had the usher received a message from god that we might be in need of a bit of distraction, she couldn’t have done a better job. But she wasn’t done yet. One of my sisters was seated directly in front of me and my mother. She has long, straight, honey brown hair. As she stepped away to go and lead another unsuspecting victim through needless purgatory, the usher reached down slowly and gently ran her hand down my sister’s hair. It was one of the most jarringly intimate things I have ever seen, a lover’s caress from a stranger in the middle of a crowd. I have never heard my mother swear, but that night, as I looked over at her, her eyes did.

“W” they said “TF!?!”

It looked like melancholy was going to have a tough time finding its moment.

The opening band wound up their act and the show began. We had what should have been the worst seats in the house. We were in the nosebleed seats behind the band. We couldn’t even see some of them because there was a black canvas screen in the way, and we were right next to a giant TV screen. But they turned out to be brilliant. It was like watching a behind-the-scenes documentary. And what scenes they were.

A curtain was lowered, cutting everyone but us off from the stage. And we saw the great man make his entrance. It was worrying. Rodriguez is seventy. Manual labourer seventy. He didn’t walk out. He was carried out. They propped him up in front of the mic, and in a curious echo of our own recent experience, the world paused as his daughter ran her hands through his hair, fixing it like a mother on her son’s first day at school. Then he put on his hat, and the world was flooded with light as the curtain dropped. Thousands of people rose to their feet, screaming, and whistling, and clapping.

On stage, very little happened.

There he stood, this funny, humble, slightly hunched over little seventy year old, blinking up at the lights and swaying a bit on his feet, like a drunk caught out by the bright lights at closing time. The noise died down. He took a tentative step forward. The noise started up again. He spent a few more seconds just standing there, swaying.

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He’s not singing. He’s leaning against the mic with his lips.

I felt ill. It was like watching a train wreck. Here he was, this great musician brought back from the dead, back up in the spotlight where he belonged, and it was too late. He was too old. We were here to watch not a triumph, but a humiliation.

And then he started to sing. It was breathtaking. It was like listening to a recording from forty years ago. His voice hadn’t aged at all, and he held the audience in the palm of his hand. We were spellbound. The song came to an end and the audience went berserk. And I realised that we weren’t there to watch a concert. We were there, in our thousands, for an act of worship.

Because he is ours. For all those years out in the cold we kept him alive, passing him around in school dormitories and univeristy digs and army barracks, listening to bad covers of him in dingy bars, singing his songs to our children when we put them to bed. And now we are giving him back. He is not a roofer from Detroit. He is a fundamental part of the story of a strange, troubled little country at the bottom of a troubled continent. And we love him for it.

It could have been a disaster. He could have forgotten the words and wandered off the stage or sat down to read a newspaper, and we would have been on our feet anyway, whistling and screaming and glorying in what we are.

And the rest of the concert? It was surreal. The lead guitarist was a bit of a sideshow, since Rodriguez clearly wasn’t following a script. He had two guitars, and every song started with a mad scramble to pick up the right one.

After the second song, Rodriguez leaned forward and said: “They were very nice to me down in Cape Town.” The crowd went wild.

Two songs after that, he leaned forward and said: “It’s time they chose a woman pope!” The crowd went wild.

Two songs later: “They were very nice to me down in Cape Town.” We went wild again. But some of us began to worry.

Two more songs: “It’s time they chose a woman pope.” Right. We paused for a second, and then went wild again. Anything worth doing is worth doing twice.

Between songs, there was a collective intake of breath, because Rodriguez would take a step back and stand swaying in the lights, and you could never be sure that he would find his way back to the mic. Once or twice, the music fell rather jarringly out of tune. But it didn’t matter. Because the voice was always there, carrying us through. And we all knew all the words, and helped with the carrying.

And the melancholy? We held it at bay. There was a brief moment, as Rodriguez began to sing “Sugar Man”, where I thought my mother was going to falter. It was one of my father’s favourites. But then the superannuated adolescent next to her asked if she would mind terribly if he lit up a joint, and the moment passed. He even offered her a hit or two, but disappointingly, she declined.

I stopped once or twice to look out over the audience. It was beautiful. There were patrician looking businessmen in striped, button-down shirts singing along with forty year old hippies, while spandex clad twenty year olds danced in the aisles. The cameras picked out a woman in her seventies, just for a second, eyes closed, rocking side to side in time with the music, while her lips moved along to the words.

My father would have loved it. Instead, we were there to love it for him. Because he found Rodriguez for us, and it has made our lives richer. You should find him for yourselves. Google him. Look him up on YouTube. Buy his albums. Your lives will be richer too. It’s the least you could do. A whole country kept him alive for you.

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142 thoughts on “Jesus died, but now he lives. In Detroit. Sort of.

  1. SocietyRed says:

    This is wonderful! Great artist, great writing!
    I’ve missed your work but now I have you back!
    Congratulations for making the front page!
    Red

  2. My mom told me about Rodriguez after seeing him on 60 Minutes months ago and has since seen the documentary about him. Just today–today!–I bought one of his albums and here it is a mere 6 hours later and I came across your post about him. Pretty cool.

  3. pigeon1994 says:

    Nice article man. I think the documentary did a more than excellent job in portraying this forgotten musician.

  4. Thanks for sharing this very personal recollection with us. I live in Vancouver, Canada and oddly enough, I first heard of Rodriguez back in the late 1980’s at a dinner party that was hosted by a couple I worked with who were from South Africa.

    Renee played the album and I was blown away by the music. I asked about it then later looked for it here. I never found it.

    Life carried on and it slipped into the recesses of my memory. Then my daughter and I went to see the documentary. The memory came back and you know, I felt cheated that I had never known his music. But now I do.

    Thanks again for such a poignant piece.

  5. MonaLisa says:

    Being from Detroit, I clicked on your blog because of the title. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s rare to find Detroit listed on a blog, so I was curious. What I found was the coolest story, and now I need to see this documentary and hear his music. I linked to your blog on FB and some friends commented that they heard of him on our news magazine program called 60 Minutes. On top of discovering this post and liking it, I’ve been browsing your blog and I like it. Alot. So I found a new daily read. Thanks!

  6. I took great interest in your post because I thought you were writing about the Lord, Jesus Christ. My Bad. Connie

  7. Between 60 Minutes and your eloquent writing above, no doubt everyone wants a piece of him. Hope the general population can let him remain humble. Great post. Nice site! Thanks as well for liking an earlier one of mine, “Boggy Waters”. Wish all those birds you posted had been settled in that shot somewhere!

  8. Wow I have to look for his music. I remember his name I cant place his music

  9. amazing writing, loved the story. Thanks!

  10. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story! I am an avid music lover of all genres, always have been and this was a treat. I listened to him and he is good. Such a fascinating story that will perhaps out live him and keep his message in his music spreading. Ilook forward to finding more songs. Your story was very nicely told. Well done!

  11. Nice blog, maybe we can follow each other? x

  12. lmlaw17 says:

    This may be a dumb question & may have indeed already been asked…but who shot himself on stage in front of a crowd, then?

    • 23thorns says:

      No-one. It simply didn’t happen. Like I said, we were largely cut off because of apartheid, and this was before the internet, so there was no easy way to find out the truth. Someone must have made up that dramatic sounding story, and the rest of us just went with it, sort of like an urban legend.
      And that was just our version. I’ve since found out that some people thought he had set himself on fire!

  13. ruolngulworld says:

    Thanks for this fantastic post. I just discovered Sixto yesterday and, after finding him on youtube, have been listening to him both at work and at home. I’m looking forward to watching ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ this weekend.

  14. such a well written beautiful story and thankyou

  15. Linne says:

    Thank you so much! I love to discover new musicians (new to me, I mean) and had not heard of Mr. Rodriguez until now. His story is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I’ll be checking out his work on YouTube and I hope to find the movie, too. I love the story of your family’s trip to the concert, too. I have long hair (some bits to my waist); mostly grey these days. I have had people touch my hair in that same way. It can be disconcerting, but I’ve never had a bad feeling about the people who did so; they seemed to be like me; very tactile. I always ask before touching someone else’s hair, but I expect in some cultures or even just family cultures, this is not common. I have met the occasional person who gave me the creeps just shaking my hand, so I think I would pick up on it if someone like that was touching my hair.
    Anyway, really what I wanted was just to thank you for another fascinating post and the introduction. And I, too, congratulate you on being Freshly Pressed! I have sent links to your blog to various friends, but this will spread the word faster. ~ Linne

  16. Wow! I first heard Rodriguez on a skate video, Make Friends With the Color Blue, and immediately I was drawn to his sound. Never knew anything about him till I read this! Good stuff, thanks!!

    • 23thorns says:

      I was always surprised that he hadn’t made it back in the 70’s. The music was good, the man was kinda exotic, the lyrics were socially conscious. Maybe the world was too busy getting ready for disco.

  17. That is a truly amazing story, on many levels. When I first saw Searching for Sugar Man I was convinced right up until the first concert scenes that this was a fake documentary and everyone was actors – because the story was so implausible. But then I realized the filmmakers wouldn’t have had the budget to stage a concert in an arena…..and I started to believe. I really enjoyed reading your take on this wonderful story.

  18. Kami Tilby says:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! So glad more people will now get to read your amazing stories and find joy in your writing!

  19. wilmaleslie says:

    i actually cant believe i read all that but you know what? i did, i read every bit of it because it was worth it, captured my attention and i mean all of it. i salute you! greatest story i have heard in 2013

  20. I am so glad for Rodriguez. I watched the documentary about a month ago, but heard the story in the winter of 2012. I saw him perform I think on Letterman? What a wonderful story, He’s so deserving. What an amazing man he is too. (By the way, in the documentary the dude pronounced Jesus as “gee zus” but it should be “heh soos”, That’s how it’s pronounced in Spanish.) I’m just curious about the name Sixto. I don’t understand how that name comes about. Do you know? I am a new and forevermore fan of Rodriguez. He’s a genuine artist, not just someone seeking fame. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • 23thorns says:

      The singer’s real name is Sixto. His parents called him that because he was their sixth child.
      For some reason, never clearly explained, the writer of most of the songs on his first album was listed as Jesus Rodriguez, his brother’s name, even though he wrote them all himself. That was one of the reasons he was so hard to find.

  21. hqimagery says:

    Love your Rodriguez blog! There was a time a few years back that I wondered if my wife and I were the only ones listening to “cold fact”! So stoked to see blogs like this and his documentary “searching for sugar man”… He is a gifted musician and writer. Hope he makes some money, that would help, I’m sure….. Regards, Chris

  22. His music is awesome and I loved the documentary about him. There are so many talented musicians in the world impacting people on a regular basis to whom fame is just another 4 letter word.

  23. I certainly enjoyed reading your post and listening to the music. A little like Dylan. I came from a small music town , Macon , Ga. USA. We have music legends walking our streets and playing in our bars AND working on construction sites. Ronnie Hammond , the lead singer for Atlanta Rhythm Section , died here last year. He was a construction worker here. Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are buried here. Otis Redding and Little Richard were born here. It is amazing the amount of talent that is right in front of us sometimes. Keep writing.

  24. Your cadence is addictive. You read one paragraph and it’s so delicious and easy to swallow, like that first salty handful out of a fresh bag of potato chips, that you “can’t eat just one,” and you have to have more. You stand in front of a computer screen, scrolling down, scrolling down, wondering when the bottom of the bag will arrive but secretly hoping it won’t. Then hoping that there will be a candy/toy prize at the bottom. And there was: I have new music to go look up. Thanks.

  25. Lone Trail says:

    Learned about the man watching 60 Minutes a few months ago. Lives a humble existence. Looking forward to watching the movie Searching For Sugar Man. Nice write up.

  26. sortaginger says:

    This is the second post I have read about Rodriguez this month, and I am glad to see it! I was also made familiar with his story via 60 Minutes. When they talked about the rumor he had already died, I wanted to cry. Thankfully the rumor was just that and he gets to see the impact his music had and its rediscovery. Beautiful story!

  27. I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about. It wont cost you anything and your post will be on a google ranked 3 site. Many Thanks. David

  28. This is all I needed to finally check out Finding Sugarman. It’s been on my horizon for months but your article is simply stunning. Heartfelt, real, honest, and friendly, I felt like you were talking directly to me about something you really care about. It was like being sucked into a conversation, off-beat anecdotes and all. I loved it.

  29. First things first – thanks for liking my post in which I had nothing to say about pancakes. I’m not quite sure how you got there, but having looked around at yours I feel rather honoured that you did. I couldn’t quite work out where on yours I should say Thanks – so it’ll have to be here!
    More important, though – thank you for your posts. I’m always happy to find new (i.e. unfamiliar) music, and you’ve introduced some and gave it context and place.
    I’ll be back for sure.

  30. Nick Warren says:

    Well, that has to be one of the most eloquent and sublimely written pieces I have stumbled across in absolute ages. Reminds me, to some extent, of how Dana Synman pens. Better, though. I was at the same concert and felt very much the same way. Thank you.

  31. I got goosebumps halfway through reading this and I still have them. What a tribute. I had never heard of him before, but you can be sure I’m going to look him and his music up now.

    Thank you.

  32. great post, great concert (I think we had the same seats as you), great man, and AMAZING memories

  33. Fantastic music. Thank you for the introduction!

  34. Brenda Williams says:

    What a treat to read such beautiful writing!

  35. RAB says:

    This is a great post. I’ve just been discovering Rodriguez as the American mainstream media track the phenomenon of his rediscovery. Love the music; love the man more. Your story is engrossing and beautifully told. Thank you for the post, thank you for your visit to my blog, and thank you and your country for keeping the knowledge of this musician alive.

  36. frank1 says:

    I was there living the moment with you. The best show ever! Brought back so many great memories.

  37. I discovered Jesus after 21 years as a Roman Catholic and 10 years as an agnostic. I have been an evangelical Christian (Wesleyan Church) for 30 years. I watched your country as it evolved out of Apartheid into a nation where justice rules. (In typing that last sentence I JUST noticed that Apartheid contains the word “apart.”) THANKS for visiting my “pun-ny” photoblog and leaving a “like.”
    –John R.: http://TheDailyGraff.com

  38. This is incredible. Thank you for sharing.

  39. Another amazing post and another wonderful tribute to our father. I am sorry he wasn’t able to enjoy the concert with you in the flesh but I’m sure his spirit was there, swaying along with the music. I’ve never heard of Jesus/Sixto Rodriguez but the music sounds wonderful and I am glad that the concert was all it could be for you and your family.

  40. Marlies says:

    Oh my word Justin that just pressed all sorts of ache & longing for those times…

  41. Nylabluesmum says:

    I’ve never heard of Jesus/Sixto Rodriguez & I am glad I have now!!!! Thank you for sharing about this talented man!!!!
    Did you ever listen to the South African band Juluka??? They were fabulous also!!! Came to Canada a handful of times!!! It was said they were the first black & white mixed band who succeeded in the music industry in the 80’s! i still have my cassettes & play them & sing the songs…in both English & African….Music unites our world don’t you think???

    • 23thorns says:

      of course. Johnny clegg and Jaluka (and later Savuka) were as much a part of our story as Rodriguez was. We still break out “Impi” at parties.

      • RAB says:

        My sister and her husband lived in South Africa (Umhlanga Rocks) for two years long ago, and came back to the US with Juluka’s first two albums. It was love at first listen for us–and we’ve managed to see Johnny Clegg during four of his visits (all incarnations: Juluka, Savuka, and Johnny Clegg), including New York City twice in the last two years. Wonderful musicians, wonderful music, wonderful mission.

      • Nylabluesmum says:

        Way cool!!! When we discovered Jaluka here my hubby (at the time) was actually a bit prejuidiced against black people; just something from his Father & the old country (Ireland). I have adopted Black siblings so Paul got a quick lesson in the blurring of racial lines….
        When we heard Jaluka it was fabulous & seeing them was even better!!! When Paul realized there were Black people in the band is prejuidice fell away & he learned that it doesn’t matter what color skin anyone has; it is who they are that is important…
        So Johnny Clegg & the boys not only made great music; they educated peiople all over the world 😉

  42. lylekrahn says:

    And that is a story well told!!

    • 23thorns says:

      Thanks. How are things in the frozen wastelands of the North. It’s tempting to think your photography must be easy in winter, what with all your subjects being conveniently located at the end of a nice, easy-to-follow dotted line through the snow. But somehow I suspect it’s not really like that.

  43. dste says:

    Wow, that’s an amazing story! Such a great post.

  44. narf77 says:

    I never quite know what to say at the end of one of your delicious monologues. I have never heard of Jesus/Sixto (he has 6 toes!!!) Rodriguez. I am an Australian (so apparently I SHOULD have heard of him because he came here twice?!) AND I am suitably ashamed of my lack of knowledge (hardly surprising lack of knowledge though…I didn’t delve into Led Zeppelin till I met my musician second husband 😉 ). Your posts are feasts for the soul sir. My mother died last year and we play Mario Lanza each year for her but your celebration of your Father’s passion leaves our Italo-American for dead! What a precious place your father must have held for you and your family. I am going to research Mr. Jesus (hayzoos! 😉 ) Rodriguez ASAP…”STAT” in fact. I am going to spend the morning listening to him on that most ubiquitous illustrators of obscurity and I am going to do it for your father, a man that I never met but who has struck a chord in me, via his son from thousands of miles away. Never let it be said that the internet has no power. The power is this…the ability for the sound of a shared, common ethos to be translated into a thousand languages and shared as far as it can be flung and this is what levels our playing fields, our arenas, and allows Jesus – six toes Rodriguez to have his 15 seconds of fame and your fathers passion to be shared and deeply appreciated by strangers the world over. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for your wonderful posts. They are deeply and truly appreciated 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      I’d love to know what you thought of him- we’ve all been listening to him for so long it’s hard to tell if he’s actually any good.

      • narf77 says:

        He is very good :). I just spent the day listening to what I could find on Youtube and am looking into sourcing the movie. The funny thing is that although I couldn’t remember his name, I remembered Sugarman. I would have been a small child when he was doing his thing and he must have been rating on the music charts and played on the radio because I know the song well :). He sounds a lot like Jose Feliciano crossed with Paul Simon…you weren’t wrong (or deluded), he is very good :). Cheers for sharing him with the rest of the world and for this wonderful post 🙂

  45. Johna Till Johnson says:

    Thank you for the wonderful story and the pointer to a fabulous musician!!

    So well-written. Thank you!

  46. aaaassdggghjjkll;;;;;rqqwwweeeeeerrrrtttyyjjjkkkllllaaasssssddddddddddddghjl;fyyhggtfgsdfgfdgsdxcdfdfrtrt rt5r5thr5yyr6yyryrr5yrrtgtrfgtfgtgtfgfggf

  47. I hadn’t heard of this talented man until several months ago when he was featured on the U.S. show 60 minutes. I thought, ‘How stupid we humans are to relish pop culture pop stars when we’ve got real musicians floating around right under our noses.’

    Beautiful words; beautiful tribute–as always.
    Kaukab’s daughter

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