Ry Cooder: These times call for a different kind of protest song

The Takeaway

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Ry Cooder has a problem with banks right now. It’s not necessarily the unlimited profits that bother the legendary composer and musician. It’s that “they want to return, some people have said, to a period of pristine capitalism, you know, when there were no unions and there were no labor movements, and there were no protections for the working people,” he explained to the BBC. “I think this is what they’re trying to do, and they’re succeeding.”

His new album, “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down,” is a protest shout against the out-of-control banks and the efforts to disenfranchise the poor. Songs like “No Banker Left Behind” call attention to the financial problems faced by people today.

He also turns his attention to the plight of immigrants in the United States. “Immigrants do work that other people will never do,” he told the BBC. “There’s this joke, there’s even this movie, ‘a day without Mexicans.’ Try it. In Los Angeles, everything would come to a screeching halt.”

The album has a strong protest element, but Cooder demurs when asked if he’s a modern-day protest singer. “I don’t look at it that way,” he told the BBC. “I’m an older guy now and I’ve been making records for so darn long, so I look upon it as the life I have.”


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