This post presented two problems. The first was that as I was putting it together I had this sinking feeling that I have failed in that I haven’t listened to enough Ry Cooder. The second was more immediate: Each clip I listened to was better than the one before. How could I choose which to feature?
Clearly, neither is a crisis. I can listen to more Cooder. And anyone who listens to the music here can go listen to more. It’s available. In any case, here are The Very Things that Make Her Rich, How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? and Vigilante Man.
Cooder is featured in the movie Ry Cooder & The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces: Let’s Have A Ball. Indeed, two of the clips above are from the film. Cooder also was the driving force behind the great Buena Vista Social Club, which paid homage to forgotten Cuban musicians.
Rolling Stone has Cooder on its lists of best guitarist ever. It’s a bit confusing, since he ends up in different spots in different years. One has him at eight, right between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmy Page, another at 31, in a Billy Gibbons/Elmore James sandwich. Ranking guitarists is dumb anyway, so suffice to say that he is, and is in, great company.
Here’s about one-third of what the site wrote:
In Ry Cooder’s hands, the guitar becomes a time machine. Ever since he began as a teen prodigy in the Sixties, he has been a virtuoso in a host of guitar styles going back to the most primal bottleneck blues, country, vintage jazz, Hawaiian slack-key guitar, Bahamian folk music and countless other styles. He’s combined these different musical idioms into his own eclectic style as one of the world’s foremost performing musicologists.
Cooder still is alive and kicking, to which this story at Rock Cellar about his latest album, Election Special, attests. It’s really sort of hard to stop highlighting Cooder songs, so here is one more: Coming in On a Wing and A Prayer, courtesy of the great site Wolfgang’s Vault,which allows songs to be embedded (in exchange for a little advertising):