Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney / Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
A good hunch would be that Sixto Diaz Rodriguez has three questions that, when posed to him, he finds impossible to give an answer to - anything consistent at least. One of those questions would be, "What do you love about this song?" and it could be put to any song, his own or one by anybody else. He would likely just go and go, with a toothy smile that's as long as a horizon when it sets in between his ever-present black shades and his chin. The second question would be about the kids these days. He seems to think a lot about the kids these days and there's always something new to think about the kids these days. Lastly, and probably the most difficult question he could ever have to formulate an answer for would be, "What's your favorite part of a woman?" This query would draw a rush of potential answers (and he'd likely equate it in his mind as some kind of drug high, alcoholic buzz and burn and a form of ecstatic splendor), a deluge of them, and for each woman he's met over his lengthy lifetime, he'd have something tailor-made to accompany her name and his memory of her. When Rodriguez, the recently rediscovered Detroit songwriter and cult success, still had the greater share of his eyesight, he could have probably stared at one woman's mouth for hours and been as intrigued as could be, seeing all of the tiny twitches and scrunches, movements and little licks with the tip of a wild tongue as gifts from God, some god. He probably saw rubies and emeralds in those swimmingly deep eyes he looked into, imagining the white to be made of pearl and diamond. He probably saw skin as uncharted territory, even if it wasn't, even if hit had been tracked over and rutted up by many a man. He likely held onto his wonder of that particular body and even as much, that particular mind and what all was shooting off between those earlobes through the years. He's been tempted and succumbed to many of them in his time and he's come away from many of those women and situations with a clearer look, with ammunition for his lyrically trained mind. The two albums that Rodriguez taped back in the mid-60s - "Cold Fact" and "Coming From Reality," both re-issued on Seattle's Light In The Attic Records over the past two years - are full of the kinds of idiosyncratic details that have become the man's general thematic discourse, the colorful tapestry of mind-bending, mood-altering drug effects, a stilted distrust of the government, warnings of the abuse of substances, an amazement with the feelings that can come from rock and roll music and a handle on the peculiarities of different people that's keen and cool. On his song entitled, "A Most Disgusting Song," Rodriguez begins with a soliloquy, a tinny introduction out of one side of the cans, where he explains that he's "played faggot bars, hooker bars and motorcycle funerals…in opera houses, concert halls and half-way houses" and he's found that in all of those different places he's played, he sees shades of the same people in all of those different people - from the crude and lewd, to the buttoned-up and stuffy. They're to him, one and the same and it makes the lawyers the same as the mobsters and the disgusting pimps. He makes cases, over and again, for his standing that people are misleading - all of them. It's a kind of humanism that can find as much generosity and beauty in the gutters and gallows as in the penthouses and the white houses. These songs - written over 40 years ago - are arguably better now than they were when they were originally released initially to obscurity that grew into an unknown phenomenon amongst the servicemen in Vietnam, and just as pertinent to the temperature of the country. Rodriguez is the Dylan who stayed undiscovered for far too long, but it's great to have him now, smartly suggesting, "Every day it's the same old thing: Getting high, getting drunk, getting horny," offering prescriptions, not just the visions.
Rodriguez MySpace Page
Light In The Attic Records