CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Like the old song says, "it takes a worried man to sing a worried song."
In the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Ry Cooder's latest recording, "Election Special," offers his take on events behind today's headlines. Mitt Romney's dog, Wall Street, the devil, Guantanamo, the 2012 election and the Constitution are all grist for his mill.
Best known as a seminal guitarist and for the Buena Vista Social Club recordings, blues (traditional and post modern) is prevalent here, with Cooder's brilliant slide guitar and mandolin. The pounding beat is provided by his son, Joachim.
"Guantanamo" brings to mind the late, great Warren Zevon:
"We climbed out of the mud and slime/we thought about it and wondered why/later on we made a real round wheel/composed a song with a real good feel/buddha and jesus laid it on the line/but we took a wrong turn with a bigot mind/your god is dead better try mine/i'm telling you for the last time.'
"Going to Tampa" has an old-time country feel. "Kool-Aid' is dark (laced with humor) that sounds a little like Howlin' Wolf.
"The 90 and the 9" could have been written by Woody Guthrie, as a parent tells a young child why they are heading to Charlotte, N.C.: "I said honey you ain't read your history book/better dust it off and take another look/if the Democrats don't make it/then i'll have myself to blame/if we don't raise some sand/then our votes might slip away/and our civil rights and our equal pay/and then it's too bad jim for the 90 and the 9.'
One hearing of this song on WNKU convinced me to buy the CD (which is also available on vinyl). Highly recommended music from a guy who want us all to get out and vote.