Pull Up Some Dust’s John Lee Hooker for President gets reincarnated as Cold Cold Feeling, a bluesman’s lament supposedly delivered by a sleepless Obama as he makes his way through the White House corridors in the wee small hours. Seems the Republicans are out to resegregate the White House and the incumbent’ll have to go in through the kitchen door

Still on the subject of the Republicans Going to Tampa has one of the delegates bidding his wife goodbye as he heads off to get my ashes hauled. Never mind the family values, here’s the change to get your rocks off in an environment where Sarah Palin calls me honey. Given the string band country hoedown in the musical department this one’s another keeper that could well be around my playlist long after the 2012 election is done and dusted.

Delta-style blues get a guernsey on Kool-Aid, which deals with those who drank from the poisoned chalice of tax cuts for the rich. The protagonist (and, remember, on the tracks where there’s an obvious protagonist he’s not necessarily a good guy) the Bush administration’s propaganda, enlists in the military and heads off to Iraq or Afghanistan and returns to find his job gone.

Themes from the Occupy movement come to the fore in The 90 and the 9, which is firmly in the Woody Guthrie/Joe Hill tradition, a workers’ song that stresses the belief that this may be the last time for the 99 percent of the population that includes America’s besieged unionists.

Election Special needs to finish on a strong note, and it arrives in the form of a militant blues, a snarling demand that the right wing ideologues Take Your Hands Off Itit being the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, though the final chorus extends things a tad (Get your bloody hands off the peoples of the world/And your war machine and your corporation thieves/That lets you keep your job and pays your dirty salary/Take your hands off us, you know we don’t belong to you).

Strong stuff, but stuff that reflects concerns that run right back through Cooder’s career. As son of liberal folkies, brought up on a diet of Woody Guthrie records, (Cooder: I’m 65; I’ve been listening to this shit all my life, and playing it, since I was a little tiny kid, startin’ with Woody at age five. Sourced here).

From there, once he’s figured out something he wants to say, it’s a fairly straightforward exercise to find an appropriate genre (or rather sub-genre) to deliver the message, and regardless of the perishability of topical song Cooder’s scholarly knowledge of a variety of styles and his proven ability to play them should allow him to continue to produce recordings of this calibre through the foreseeable future.

Much as some of us might want them to, you can’t help suspecting the issues that have attracted Ryland’s attention are going to disappear overnight.


Wikipedia entry

Ry Cooder's 'Election Special' takes on 2012 presidential campaign

Interview (New York Times)

Interview (

© Ian Hughes 2012