Song Reviews and Sound Files
The songs and sounds ofRodriguez
Sugar Man MP3
Probably Rodriguez's most well-known song. Rodriguez himself is also often referred to as The Sugar Man. A great song with superb instrumentation. This slow bluesy rock song is a paean to his drug dealer, however Rodriguez said on a TV interview in March 1998 that this song is "descriptive not prescriptive". Great imagery and use of hippy slang, like "silver magic ships" and "sweet Mary Jane", ensure the listeners' interest. The psychedelic freak-out section in the middle reminds me of similar sections in Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and Uriah Heep's 'Gypsy'.
Cold Fact opens with the ultra trippy Sugar Man, which may well have been straight out of an acid trip. "Sugar man met a false friend on a lonely dusty road, lost my heart, when I found it, it had turned to dead black coal" suggests just where exactly the inspiration came from as he goes on to list jumpers, coke and sweet Mary Jane. More than any other Rodriguez song, it is Sugar Man which personifies the artist in the minds of those who have always wondered. The eerie moog synthesizer, whistling in the background, the lazy and simple guitar chords and the dreamy nasal voice place the listener firmly in an era of fantasy. It sets a perfect tone for the album and the myth.
- Andrew Bond, 1998
I'm not for drugs, I never advocated drug taking
- Rodriguez, March 1998
What's that song about anyway?
- Rodriguez, 22 September 2001
This track was the first encore song on the 1998 SA tour. It was preceded by much chanting of "Su-gar Man, Su-gar Man...". Were we calling for the song or the Man? Who knows, but he came and he sang and we loved it.
Just Jinger also did a great cover of this song on their March 1998 EP "Something For Now". Listen to a 17 second snippet here.
There have also been cover versions recorded by American band The Monkey Wrench and Australian band Stella One Eleven.
Kris Kristofferson recorded a completely different song called Sugar Man in 1972. Released on the Jesus Was A Capricorn album.
In 1991 The Escape Club also recorded a song titled Sugar Man (no relation to the Rodriguez song) on their Dollars And Sex CD.
In 2001 Rapper Nas sampled 'Sugar Man' for his 'You're Da Man' track off 'Stillmatic'. Read more...
Only GoodFor Conversation MP3
Classic fuzz metal guitar riff by Dennis Coffey opens this song, reminds me of DeepPurple's 'Smoke On The Water'. A harsh bitter song of lost love (..you'rethe coldest bitch I know..), this track really rocks! Great bass line and a superb guitar solo.
I Wonder MP3
This classic folk-rock song is the one that mostpeople seem to associate with Rodriguez. Used as the show opener on the1998 and 2001 SA tours. Simple in composition but penetrating in it's lyrics.
It came as no surprise then that when Cold Fact hit the record racks, it became a hit, simply because it contained a phrase which would muddy the country's sexually chaste waters and serve as a mantra to the youth: I wonder, how many times you've had sex...
- Craig Bartholomew, 1997
Watch Rodriguez perform this song "unplugged" in a 15 second video AVI (1326 MB).
Generation EXT's slow hip-hop rap version of I Wonder was released on the compilation CD Dance Connexion 17 in September 1998. Listen to a 24 second snippet here.
Climb Up On My Music MP3
My favourite Rodriguez song and also one of my all-time favourite songs.Brilliant title and great lyrics. Excellent rock guitar from Chris Spedding and jazzypiano (by Phil Dennys?) make this song a classic. Wonderful productionby Steve Rowland and superb stereo imaging.
Listen to it!!
When performed live on the 1998 SA tour this track became a classic rocksong of anthemic proportions. Willem Möller's guitar solo is one of my magic moments in music. Listen to a 30 second snippet here.
Sandrevan Lullaby WAV
A wonderful instrumental duet for acoustic guitar and violin. Used as theintro for Lifestyles. Written by Rodriguez for his 2 daughters, Sandraand Eva. Sometimes mistitled as Sundrevan Lullaby.
...the musical part of Sandrevan Lullaby touches my heart (named after my sister Sandra and me)...
- Eva Rodriguez, 1997
Rehearsed for the 1998 SA tour, but not performed (I know 'coz I was there!)
Rich Folks Hoax MP3
Great song, what more can I say - listen to the words.
Craig Bartholomew told me that in 1987when he was busking his way around Spain, this song received the best response, and the most money into his open guitar case!
Hate Street Dialogue WAV
Not written by Rodriguez, but sure sounds like it could have been. "Hate Street Dialogue" actually refers to the famous "Haight/Ashbury" area of San Francisco, the famous Hippie hang-out during the late 60s "Summer Of Love".
...for years the title Hate Street Dialogue has been bothering me, when I listened to the song I gathered the lyrics were referring to the famous hippie street in San Francisco: Haight/Ashbury, however the title on the album is spelt "Hate". Rodriguez said (on a SA radio phone-in show in March 1998) that although the lyrics of that particular song were not written by himself they did refer to the Haight and not to the opposite of love.
- Stelios, 1998
Visit the SummerOf Love website for more info on this famous street.
The amazing story of Hate Street Dialogue can be read here...
Jane S Piddy WAV
Could this be "Janis Pity" - a sort of tribute to Janis Joplin? Read the lyrics and see the similarity to Janis and her lifestyle. Lyrics like "now you sit there thinking, feeling insecure..." and "...don't bother to buy insurance, coz you've already died...". Great imagery and biting prose. More about this song and 'Like Janis' here...
To Whom ItMay Concern (1979 live version) WAV
A wonderful, almost progressive rock version with jazz-blues flute andeven a bass solo. Recorded in Australia in 1979. This track is over 8 minutes long and the band is introducedon this song.
Really great version.
Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour
After a conversation with my father about the "Least Liked Rodriguez Song” (see Voting results), I wanted to share a short story...
In the sixties, there were these people called hippies. It can be said that a long hair, dark skin, free thinking musician, like Rodriguez could have been labelled one. In my youth, I recall hearing about how the "rich folks” (those living in the suburbs), would come down to the inner city of Detroit to actually see these "oddities” in their natural environment. Maybe even take a picture or two. This happened to be my neighborhood and some of my people.
Rodriguez had a very good friend named Heikki. I remember a large man with long blond/brown hair. He had a very nice home, a wife named Linda and two huge bull mastiff dogs. Despite stereotypes, Heikki was a mathematician from "Estonia” (Estonia is a republic in North-Eastern Europe, near Finland) who rode a classic motorcycle. In fact, one of the places that Rodriguez played, a "motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki's friends. The motorcycle club was called "The Penetrators".
Anyway, someone had made fun of Rodriguez's friend. Protective of Heikki's feelings, Rodriguez organized what I consider to be a peaceful form of retaliation. A bus was chartered, full of hippies, four gallons of wine, etc. The group went to Grosse Point, Michigan and surrounding areas where they visited suburbian malls and neighborhoods on a tour of their own. The rest, is in the music. The story made the newspapers in Detroit and also reached Florida (a southern U.S. state).
- Eva, 1997
A Most Disgusting Song
In "A Most Disgusting Song" the people are like someone we all know. I think it was a depiction of a place Rodriguez played, a bar called "The Sewer" near the Detroit River, that was demolished a long time ago (In the song "Cause" Rodriguez speaks to Jesus (his brother?) at the Sewer). One of the places that Rodriguez played, a "motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki's friends. The motorcycle club was called "The Penetrators".
- Eva, 1997