Thursday, November 20, 2008

"This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune" - Rodriguez

I always enjoyed Rodriguez and his unique vibe. Incredibly to the point and simple yet undeniably powerful lyrics and chilled tunes. At the time I was most into his 'Cold Fact' album, the story about the dude was that he had shot himself on stage live at a concert. After singing the lyric: "Thanks for your time and you can thank me for mine ... kabllloooooiiieee!" I believed that for years. I never contemplated, just took it as truth when I heard it and probably used the same regurgitation a couple of times to show off around a braai or on a road trip as Rodriguez entertained.
The truth is this cat is still out there. The stranger truth to me which I only found out a few years ago is that he was only famous in South Africa! A little in NZ and Oz too, but basically his huge following of his anti establishment sentiments in the late 60's was only really entrenched in South Africa. Rodriguez never even played to a sub sub substantial concert in the USA. That could be in part because he once performed his whole set with his back to the audience and was generally a bit of a bad egg out there.
I must admit this does show how much the record labels, the radio stations and media have influence on what is a commercial success on the music world and what is not. Look at how incredible he was in South Africa and if you know his stuff you can clearly identify the class and talent of the man when he made 'Cold Fact'. Yet he was not even aware that he was a success and when a South African reporter eventually found him working on a construction site at the end of a search to what was then, the-mystery-of-Rodriguez and what had happened to him, the poet/songwriter/musician was not aware at all of his reverence in on the other side of the world. Of course he would have been aware of the royalties of the multi platinum selling album in this country - had he received any. But he did not and remained blissfully unaware for many years of his popularity. Kind of like Ian Flemming's James Bond, but that is one for another time.

Okay I will tell it now quickly: basically yea, Ian Flemming died before he knew his work was a success. A true Legend. There you have it now back to Rodriguez.

'Cold Fact' was released in 1970 which makes Rodriguez an old geeza and probably one of the reasons that he never got it right again once he tried a revival way too late, on the back of his, until then, oblivious fame. The music he has made is still all too powerful for those that have had the time and opportunity to take part in it. So often I have a lyric come to life as something unfolds in front of me.
Interestingly the lyrics tend to remain timeless. I say interesting as so many of them are written about the dark side of life that people think will be left behind at some stage and that is just a temporary. 'Cold Fact' is a good reminder that life is supposed to have a dark and difficult side although if accepted and not seen as something apart, they become more easily understood.
Take the useless piece of garbage women who took my car away yesterday evening on a funky truck with some nifty lifting gear. It was taken as part of the system of 'no parking on the road outside me house between 5pm and 6pm'. Well there is nowhere else to park and although the rule is setup to help the traffic flow more fluidly, there is in fact not a problem at all at any time even when its home time and all the locals are rushing home up our street and all our cars are sleeping in a lazy line on Buitenkant Street. So the car can be there and the traffic does flow. The two R500 fines and now another R500 fine and the theft of my car are part of a system that does not work. I was not home at the time so my younger brothers were left to hurl abuse that fat idiot as she evilly smiled at their rantings, happy to be a part of the crazy system that she could actually do something about if she was a worthwhile human, but sadly - for her you understand - she is a waste of energy and will find that out many times a day I am sure in her sad existence.

Now a small irony and something that I really did have to laugh about, was that I was actually going to use my car to take me to touch rugby on Camps Bay beach at that very time the evil fool was plying her trade. Already having driven to Camps Bay once that day, I had decided to use my own foot steps to decrease my carbon footprint. Si si that's right, I decided to run there and then back after the touch rugby. Not an easy run having to pop over Kloofnek both ways. Funny stuff actually, although I don't think my bank manager would agree at this stage.

post script: A platinum album means a million were sold. So this Rodriguez cat sold a few million 'Cold Fact' albums in South Africa and never knew for over 30 years!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact: Rodriguez's daughter lives in Wilderness, 4 hours up the coast from Cape Town.