Ry Cooder’s rage against bankers and Republicans provides the impetus for his recent album, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down. This is the culmination of a long and rich musical career rooted in American folk and blues.
Cooder’s first albums in his own right included versions of songs like “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?”, Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark was the Night”. He went on to contribute memorable soundtracks to many films. He is probably best known for the bestselling album Buena Vista Social Club, which restored the careers of many ageing Cuban musicians, and involved defying US law.
Every tune in Pull Up Some Dust deserves your attention. The album is consumed with a passionate rage against crooked bankers, hate-mongering politicians, racism and war along with an unswerving identification with those who suffer. Satire and dark humour play against anger and bitterness to savage effect. The music is stunning – the distillation of a lifetime’s experience.
The track “No Banker Left Behind” combines a feelgood liveliness with lyrics about bankers who “robbed the nation blind”. In “Quicksand” Cooder sings as a Mexican immigrant, highlighting the desperate situation of those trying to cross the border, while in the gentler “Dirty Chateau” a rich man is judged by his Mexican maid who calls him “an unclean man” ignorant of the lives of those who work for him.
Listen to this album – it will fire you up. In Cooder’s words, “Present times demand something direct. If I didn’t write these songs, I’d go mad.”
Women between revolution and counter-revolution
Animated film retells Anne Frank’s story
A pick of the highlights