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Meet Sixto Rodriguez, musician with a bittersweet life

At the time of the staircase, his daughter warns Regan that it is hot up there. It’s also dark. Curtains or simple fabrics hide the windows. A smell of marijuana wafts. Her silhouette emerges in the darkness of a bedroom, in profile, her knees bent over her bed. Impossible to see the shade of the blanket, if something is hanging on the wall. His t-shirt looks simple. His voice is a whisper. On the coffee table some candles are added for our meeting.

His face appears, eyes hidden behind sunglasses in the colors of the American Stars and Stripes. One of his hands grabbed mine to make contact. He has these very long fingers that seemed to shrink the guitar, he gave him the rhythm, the melody was in his voice. “Are you still playing? “No, not at all.” “Even here, with friends?” ” “They are welcome. But I listen to them play. “Why don’t you play with them?” “For many reasons. And I am 80 years old. »

He flees from the light

Sixto Rodriguez was born on July 10, 1942. Today is July 8, 2022. The house is getting ready to celebrate its birthday the next day, a day early. Behind, the poster of the film dedicated to him, Oscar for Best Documentary in 2013, was rolled down from the upper balcony. The man floats as we discovered him, as he will remain, a silhouette with long hair, the guitar in his back. Sugar manor the story of a song writer American without success, who does not know how much he is respected in South Africa. There, his only two albums, released at the very beginning of the 1970s, became the soundtrack of white youth in the struggle against apartheid.

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His fans believed he died tragically, but two of them found him destitute in Detroit in the 1990s. committed suicide in 2014). And Rodriguez has popped up, especially in Europe. It was like a time capsule, as if the thaw or the seabed had revealed buried treasures, important songs from the last century, as if everything had not been said, as if other Dylans, to whom he was immediately compared, still in the time of synthesizers, utopias and buried anger.

“Rodriguez now only lived in one room, very close to a stove. When he ran out of wood, he went to pick it up. » Danny Kroha, guitarist

It was like a fairy tale. The house did not appear in the film. Another facade was chosen not to give its address. We only saw the inside, the only room where he hid and which the musicians of Detroit knew well. They didn’t wait for the South Africans, they knew. From the 1990s, in the good record stores of the United States, we were looking for these two nuggets that are Cold Fact et Get out of reality, which a certain Rodriguez released in quick succession, in 1970 and 1971. A Seattle label – Light in the Attic – finally released them in 2008, four years before the film, and Sixto Rodriguez immediately followed the path of small American scenes resume.

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