Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Ry Cooder has spent great parts of his career being silent, or at least not saying much, taking years between albums, and doing instrumental soundtrack work.  Now, you can't shut him up.  Cooder got upset a few years back with the state of the States, and started this current run of finger-pointing albums he's on.  Cooder's been looking around, singling out injustices, and calling out the villains.  At first, he was telling smaller stories from his California youth, describing the damage done to the Mexican community of Los Angeles when Dodger Stadium was built in their old neighbourhood of Chavez Ravine.  Then he tried on a little political discourse, although coached in a child's tale, in My Name Is Buddy.  But with last year's Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down, and now Election Special, the gloves are off.

Cooder's ripping into the Republicans during this election year, in the same way he attacked bankers and big business on Pull Up Some Dust.  He's not mincing words; Cooder accuses them of racism, of wishing they could bring back the days of Jim Crow laws.  In opener Mutt Romney Blues, he refers to Boss Mitt Romney, that old title from slavery days for the white overseer, and talks about "the mean things you tryin' to do."  In Brother Gone, Satan appears, as power-brokers do a deal with the devil, and commence to become powerful using oil spills, cancer towns, and foreclosures.  Cold Cold Feeling could also be called Obama's Blues, Cooder cast as the President's voice, singing "If you never been President, then you don't know how it feels/Those stray dog Republicans always snappin' at my heels."  And it's pretty obvious that Cooder picked up some of his flame from the Occupy movement.  The cut The 90 and the 9 is a call to action:  "If
we don't raise some sand then our votes might slip away/and our civil rights and our equal pay."

As usual, the music on this release is brilliant, Cooder choosing to use depression-era melodies and instruments for much of the material.  When there's a Republican singing, he's cast as a redneck, and Cooder whips up some banjo tunes and sing-along,  hillbilly music.  Make no mistake, he's calling this bunch bigoted, and ignorant, being led down the same old path by the manipulators behind the scenes who stand to win millions and billions by keeping the U.S. divided by race.  And it comes with a direct warning to those very rich people:  Take Your Hands Off It opens with the line "Get your dirty hands off my constitution now", and goes on to advise the same about voter rights, unions, reproductive rights, and foreign policy.  Like much folk music of the past centuries, the stories are exaggerated, and obviously not all Republicans are bad people, or bigoted.  But Cooder is using stereotypes because of what he thinks is a dangerous situation.   He doesn't care who he offends, he just wants the greedy people gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment