Greenpoint, October, 2015

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crazy 'bout an Automobile

Ry Cooder has a thing for old cars and other four-wheeled things. By my count, five of his album covers feature a vintage auto, trailer, or test car (plus one with treads). The photo below is the gatefold from Into the Purple Valley, with Ry and wife Susan and a '39 Buick convertible he borrowed from the Warner Brothers film lot next to the recording studio. (No car on Ry's new record, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down, but a nice Depression-era traffic light-street sign combo.)
Ry and Susan in 1972

Of course, there's the great cover of Billy ("the Kid") Emerson's "Every Woman I Know (Crazy 'bout Automobiles)." That song shows up in the film Les Blank made of two shows Ry gave in San Diego in 1988. As always, Ry brought the players: Jim Keltner, Flaco Jimenez, Van Dyke Parks (for chrissakes), Terry Evans, Bobby King, Willie Green.  It's called Ry Cooder and the Moula Banda Aces, and it may be the best concert film you can't see.  According to Les Blank's website, Ry "prefers the film not be shown in North America." There are rumors you can get it on DVD in Argentina...

Well, Ry giveth and Ry taketh away. About 20 years ago, when Randy Newman had to pull out of a Newport Folk Fest gig at the last minute, Cooder filled in with a beautiful late afternoon solo set (plus couple of duets with old bandmate John Hiatt). There are a few songs from the Moula Banda film on YouTube, including the aforementioned "Every Woman I Know" and this gorgeous "Chain Gang" with Bobby King taking lead vocals:

(In my research for this post, I discovered the tracklist for a Cooder compilation tape I made years ago--before Buena Vista. I called it "Ry Cooder Feeds Us All." The tape has gone the way of all things but I'll provide the tracklist on request.)


  1. Well my dear Ashtangi student...I sincerely hope that you noticed that AMAZING yoga reference. Moula Banda????? Get thee to the ashram, pronto!

  2. Missed it I admit. Resisting temptation to make yoga class-chain gang joke. Oops, couldn't resist.

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