The Oscar-nominated, life-affirming documentary Searching For Sugar Man provided an unforgettable answer to a question most American music fans would never think to ask: Whatever happened to Rodriguez, an obscure Detroit folk-singer who released two gorgeous, socially conscious but commercially unsuccessful albums in the early 1970s, then dropped off the radar completely, only to become a massive superstar/folk hero in South Africa at the height of the protests against apartheid? The answer was that Rodriguez was alive and well and living in Detroit, working various construction jobs, running unsuccessfully for public office, agitating for social change and raising three lovely daughters, before he learned of his massive fame in South Africa and performed a series of triumphant comeback shows in a country that would become his second home.
If Searching For Sugar Man provided the most satisfying possible answer to the question of Rodriguez’s destiny, it nevertheless left a lot of lingering questions. Had Rodriguez been writing new songs in the decades after he left a fickle music industry for the slightly less glamorous but earthier world of construction? Did a magical shoebox exist somewhere filled with new Rodriguez compositions from the 1980s, '90s, '00s, and today? Was there a massive archive of unreleased Rodriguez music, or did the artist’s two albums genuinely reflect the sum of his writings?
In an interview with Rolling Stone about a possible return to recording, Rodriguez says, “I’ve written about 30 songs, and that’s pretty much what the public has heard." Nevertheless, the 70-year-old comeback kid is taking meetings with producers—including David Holmes (who included his song “Sugar Man” on a mix) and Steve Rowland, who produced Rodriguez’s 1971 album Coming From Reality—to discuss plans for a possible third album.
It’s unclear whether that third album would consist of new compositions or reworked older songs from Rodriguez's lengthy period of not recording, but for folks who fell in love with Rodriguez during Searching For Sugar Man then sought out his albums, this is tremendously exciting news. Rodriguez has been booked to play Coachella in April and Glastonbury in June (in addition to more South Africa dates and a trip to the Oscars), and while he’s sure to play old favorites, his appearances hold out the exhilarating possibility he’ll also debut new material.
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