Shame on Me: Sixto Rodriguez in Brisbane 31 March 2013

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Sixto Rodriguez_grey

 Sixto Rodriguez


The whole world is enchanted by the Sixto Rodriguez story. And no wonder. It has such heart-warming and redemptive qualities. Rodriguez — and his story — touch our hearts.


Last night I attended his concert in Brisbane in a relatively small theatre, The Tivoli, which stands 500. Stands, not sits. Standing for some of us grey-haired ones was a challenge for nearly four hours, but we stood it. We stood up to it.


And we agreed it was worth it.


The audience was allsorts: South Africans who knew his music as the powerful voice of the anti-apartheid movement, newbies like me, Australian fans from his tours here in the 1970s. Allsorts, all ages. We sang along to the songs we knew and cheered the others.


We cheered him.


Only in Australia would you hear, “Goodonyer, Cisco!!”


We’re the same age, Sixto and I, though he’s had a much harder life and it shows in his face and in his needing to be helped on stage. But once he’s into it, he’s no longer 70. Or maybe he is 70.

Who knows?


This mystery man, peering out at us through thick glasses — and philosophising on culture, violence against women and cannabis law reform — seemed to be glowing with delight. And perhaps– we can only guess — marvelling at what has finally come of what might have been.


He’s reported to have remarked recently, It’s never too early and it’s never too late.


Lately, having just turned 70 myself, I marvel at my “elder mind”: so synergistic, multi-dimensional, creative, brave. I love my courageous mind!


Courage is what I saw and heard last night. You’d need that — and some special Hispanic chutzpah — to cover songs by Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those things” so beloved by Frank Sinatra.


Those three I recognised. There were more, including Midnight Oil’s “Redneck Wonderland”.


“Blue Suede Shoes” was a knockout!


Bob would have cheered (as we did) his rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone”.


Some of us cried.


I pushed my way through the crowd toward the exit as he was helped from the stage at the end of the concert. I was eagerly seeking a taxi on a rainy Easter night and worried for my Beloved, too sick to attend.


I confess that an ageist thought crossed my mind:


“He won’t have an encore in him.”


As I stepped into the taxi, Rodriguez’s voice with its melodic, sparkling rhythmns — came pouring through the theatre foyer, lyrics splashing through the door and onto the dark, rainwashed streets, enlivening them.


It was his second encore.


He was still singing.


Shame on me.