Ryland Peter “Ry” Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer, record producer, and writer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his slide guitar work, his
interest in traditional music, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.
Cooder’s solo work draws upon many genres. He has played with John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Ali Farka Touré, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, David Lindley, The Chieftains, The Doobie Brothers, and Carla Olson and The Textones (on record and film). He formed the band Little Village, and produced the album Buena Vista Social Club (1997), which became a worldwide hit; Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.
Cooder explored bygone musical genres and found old-time recordings which he then personalized and updated. Thus, on his breakthrough album, Into the Purple Valley, he chose unusual instrumentations and arrangements of blues, gospel, calypso, and country songs (giving a tempo change to the cowboy ballad “Billy the Kid”). The album opened with the song “How Can You Keep on Moving (Unless You Migrate Too)” by Agnes “Sis” Cunningham about the Okies who were not welcomed when they migrated west to escape the Dust Bowl in the 1930s – to which Cooder gave a rousing-yet-satirical march accompaniment. In 1970 he collaborated with Ron Nagle and performed on his Bad Rice album.
His later 1970s albums (with the exception of Jazz, which explored ragtime/vaudeville) do not fall under a single genre description, but his self-titled first album could be described as blues; Into the Purple Valley, Boomer’s Story, and Paradise and Lunch as folk and blues; Chicken Skin Music and Showtime as a mix of Tex-Mex and Hawaiian; Bop Till You Drop as 1950s R&B; and Borderline and Get Rhythm as rock-based. His 1979 album Bop Till You Drop was the first popular music album released that was recorded digitally, using the early 3M digital mastering recorder.It yielded his biggest hit, an R&B cover version of Elvis Presley’s 1960s recording “Little Sister”.
Cooder is credited on Van Morrison’s 1979 album, Into the Music, for slide guitar on the song “Full Force Gale”. He also played guitar on Judy Collins’ 1970 concert tour, and is featured on Living, the 1971 live album recorded during that tour. He also learned from and performed with Gabby Pahinui and “Atta” Isaacs in Hawaii during the Hawaiian Renaissance of the early 1970s. He is also credited for guitars on several 1971 recordings by Nancy Sinatra that were produced by Andy Wickman and Lenny Waronker – “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone”, “Hook & Ladder”, and “Glory Road”. Cooder is credited as a mandolin player on Gordon Lightfoot’s Don
Quixote album in 1972.
This live set of recordings is from an acoustic show he played at Ebbetts Field in Denver,
Colorado on May 20, 1974.
1. Too Tight Blues No. 2
2. I Can Tell By The Way You Smell
3. Blind Man Messed Up By Tear Gas
4. Episcopalian Hymn
5. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live
6. Ax Sweet Mama
7. Floating Bridge
8. Fool For A Cigarette/Feelin’ Good
9. Every Woman I Know (Crazy ‘Bout An Auto)
10. Feelin’ Like A Submarine (Kentucky Blues)
11. Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend