Who’s Ry Cooder?

“Who’s Ry Cooder?”… I expected that reaction from the Hyde kids, but when I heard it from the faculty, I figured I’d seize upon the chance to do some uninvited enlightening.

Where do I start? There’s…
– The placement in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of Top 100 guitarists (#8 in 2003);
– The multiple Grammy Awards in categories ranging from Best Children’s Album to Best World Music to Best Pop Instrumental;
– The 15+ movie music soundtracks;
– The session work with the Stones, Little Feat, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, and lots more;
– The collaborations with international musicians like The Chieftains and others from India and Cuba.

But I think I’ll go with the unique and memorable cover he has given to songs like:

1. “Little Sister” off Bop till You Drop (1979)… The closest thing he had to a hit. Bop till You Drop holds the distinction being the first digitally recorded major-label album in popular music.

2. “Hey Porter” off Into the Purple Valley (1972)…  A Johnny Cash song… The Purple Valley album cover is listed at #12 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of greatest album covers.

3. “Tamp ‘Em Up Solid” off Paradise and Lunch (1974). Perhaps more than any other, this is the song that made me a fan.

4. “Ditty Wah Ditty” off Paradise and Lunch.

5. “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)” off Jazz (1978).

6. “Shine” off Jazz.  I probably listen to Jazz more than any other Cooder album.

7. “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing” off  Bop till You Drop… Awesome duet with Chaka Khan.

8. “All Shook Up” off Get Rhythm (1987).

9. “I’m Drinking Again” off The Slide Area (1982).

10. “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” off Borderline (1980)… FWIW, Bonnie Raitt does a killer version of this with Charles and Ruth Brown.

If you like this starter playlist, know that there’s a whole lot more where that came from.  For example, should your tastes run a bit more current and topical, check out his biting “No Banker Left Behind” off Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (2011).

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld