I’M HEADING OUT FOR THIS…
I discussed the project with R.C. here:
A long pullquote here:
Used to be, we called them “stories”—reportage, analysis, investigation—the thing we’d come to know as “news.” You’d snap open a newspaper sit a spell and travel deep into different worlds, discover some sense of your place or role in it.
Some days a story might feel slanted, others, under-reported—but more often than not, the pieces that went deep gave you a sense of gravity, of consequence, of what was at stake, how you might be affected or implicated.
More and more, Ry Cooder noted the absence of such “stories.” Instead of breadth or depth, there was something vague called “content”—not context. And that steady feed of poll results or carnage counts arriving over our smart phone reported the result, but not the cause, made us aware but not informed.
The timing, Cooder observed, couldn’t have been more telling: advantageous for the power elite, disastrous for the people. A succession of world-altering events scrolled across our collective screens and our consciousness the world at war, the mortgage crisis, the rollback of immigrant rights and civil liberties, the war on the environment—more than ever, it seemed, we needed to fight back, hold some one’s feet to the fire—but whose? “Fear and isolation,” he’s learned, “are the ways you keep people under control.”
His new album, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down grew out of this information void—and the pervasive political and corporate double-speak that began swirling in its absence. Snaking through it are familiar themes—the struggle toward real democracy, the trials of the working man, the elusive goal of equality—set against the mayhem of contemporary front page news. Paired with it is Cooder’s fluent command of the rhythms and textures of American vernacular music—but bent and reshaped for this moment: “Some of this should be vivid and intense and it should roll right at you,” he says, “but it shouldn’t tire you out so you stop paying attention. I don’t think they’ll listen to this and say: ‘Hey, I wonder what was on his mind?’”
The album is a trenchant examination of power and the abuses of it. Accordingly, it’s also a measure of Cooder’s own growing sense of disaffection. “Never have I seen the Republicans be so tight-fisted as they are now. The worst of it is the chipping away of what people, by rights, ought to have, should have … the resources they deserve, pay taxes for.”
These songs—forthright, declarative—express sentiments or critiques often voiced only in private, among family or ideological allies. “People listen to music with a different part of their mind,” says Cooder. “We need to hear some of these ideas and hear them in musical settings.”
Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down has been Cooder’s way to consider some complex questions, to pull back the curtain on the “official stories” by applying a healthy dose of reporter-style skepticism. The album gives “voice” to those affected by corporate greed, self-serving legislation, a culture of fear and hate—and the corrosive nature of apathy.
a taste here: