Since I live in America, I have been growing a distaste for the word “dream.” Rodriguez, the unwitting main character of the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” (2013 Oscar to the best documentary) has reconciled me with it.
Perhaps because Rodriguez did not have dreams, or because if he had any, they were not aspirational. It must have to do with his Mexican blood or the fact that he’s from f… Detroit. Not even: from Dearborn, in the suburb of Detroit.
In the 1960s, Rodriguez for sure has a voice that gives you the chills and lyrics that kill. A few people in the music scene in Detroit noticed it, and an album of his songs was produced but it did not go anywhere. A few years later, Rodriguez was bigger in South Africa than Dylan or the Beatles. An American had indeed brought a tape with Rodriguez’s songs and the tape was duplicated. The upshot was a “viral” success that nobody could ever dream off, some forty years before the advent of social medias. Except that Rodriguez did not have a clue about it. In 1998, he finally does and he’s invited to give a concert – in front of thousands of people. He gave some thirty concerts there. And he then went back to his job – construction worker- and his house in Dearborn: no tour in the US or in Europe in the pipeline, no move in a glorious mansion in Marta’s Vineyard, no lawsuit against the record company he never got a penny from.
At some point in the documentary, a music journalist said about Rodriguez “that home is acceptance.” You don’t pay much attention to this sentence if you get it inside a fortune cookie. While watching the movie, I was weeping in the bucket of popcorn of my neighbor.
What does it have to do with fatherhood? Rodriguez has three daughters, and they talked about him in the documentary; About him and them being poor and working class. Not proudly -pride assumes somebody in front of whom one is proud of- but calmly, peacefully. That’s just what it is. From what the three daughters say, you sense how much they acknowledge what he gave them. That’s when I started becoming jealous of Rodriguez.
Missing “Searching for Sugar Man” may not be unamerican, but it is inexcusable.