CD review – Ry Cooder: Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
Ry Cooder is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He is using his guitar as a megaphone from his bully pulpit on his new release Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down.
Cooder, who is best known for his world music collaborations with musicians from Africa and Latin America, has once again gathered together a diverse group of players focused on a singular mission. The resulting collection of songs is a musical commentary on the succession of world-altering events that have scrolled across our collective consciousness of the past decade such as the world at war, the mortgage crisis, the rollback of immigrant rights and civil liberties, the war on the environment and the pervasive political and corporate double-speak that swirls around in today’s media.
Inspired by a headline on journalist Robert Sheer’s website, Truthdig, ”No Banker Left Behind,” kicks off the album with a twenty-first century protest march Woody Guthrie would have been proud of. With his son Joachim joining him again on the drums, Cooder takes us on journey across the American musical landscape with an array of authentic textures from Norteno and Banda, to jug band, delta blues, and roots rock. Along the way he inhabits a cast of characters that express sentiments and critiques most people wouldn’t dare to speak aloud. The ghost of Jesse James asks God for his guns back because the Wall Street guys are shaming the real bank robbers, while John Lee Hooker has a plan to run for president and a grieving parent laments his child’s decision to join the army.
Cooder’s boldest moves are to tell “Mr. President” to “take his war and shove it up his Crawford Texas Ass” on the sing-along anti-war polka “Christmas Time This Year,” and to dare ask “why the white man isn’t worth nothing in this world no more,” in the gospel fused funk “Lord Tell Me Why.” After the ranting diatribe, he does offer us a solution with the soft country song “Simple Tools:” they are all that is needed to mend a broken heart. Let’s hope he’s right.
Rick j Bowen
Originally appeared in Innocent Words Nov 2011