Songs »Sugar Man

rodriguez sugar manI can not, for the life of me, figure out why Sugarman, the amazing 1970 song by little-known Rodriguez, never became a smash hit here in the USA. It's like a long lost dreamily upbeat Donovan track, minus the chilling goofiness of Mellow Yellow but imbued with the naughtiness of the Codeine's derided subject matter; it seems, to me, to be an ode to the pleasures of drug-taking.

Now considered a “cult” classic rock song, Sugarman is a huge hit in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Propelled by its recent appearance as a sample in a song by someone called “Nas” that you kids are all into these days, maybe this spectacularly catchy song will finally catch on and reach wide American audience, inspiring them to swing their shoulders like a hippies and let the sound carry them away.

Originally a Motown singer, Rodriguez came Icarianly close to stardom but lost it all with a bunk record company then went on to to shed his musical roots, living quietly and eventually making a run for local office in Detroit.

While I'm sure he's a well rounded man who's enjoyed his life and recent re-discovery, I can't help but feel sad about all the music he could have made if he'd stuck with it through the years. Though, just ask the Rolling Stones what the last good song they recorded was (answer: none)… Maybe we should just count our blessings that we're left with this singular and underplayed gem.

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Posted on April 6, 2009

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