Ry Cooder rules. New album out today sees Ry accompanied by Mike & Pete Seeger, Roland White, Van Dyke Parks, Paddy Moloney, Flaco Jiménez, Stefon Harris, Joachim Cooder and Jon Hassell. Cover drawing and interior illustrations by Vincent Valdez.
On My Name Is Buddy, Ry Cooder revisits, in a new set of original material, the sound and feeling of the “dust bowl songs” he first explored more than three decades ago on such groundbreaking albums as his self-titled 1970 debut and 1971’s Into The Purple Valley. In fact, he’s joined by old friends like pianist Van Dyke Parks and drummer Jim Keltner who were with him at the start of his extraordinary, ultimately globe-spanning musical odyssey, which has yielded him six Grammy Awards to date, several more nominations, and perennial acclaim. My Name Is Buddy is also a journey, a phantasmagorical rendering in music, words and pictures of the travels of three unlikely cohorts—Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse and Reverend Tom Toad—as they meander through the west “in the days of labor, big bosses, farm failures, strikes, company cops, sundown towns, hobos and trains…the America of yesteryear.” For this allegorical tale, Cooder marshals all his remarkable skills as a producer, arranger, songwriter, soundtrack composer and musicologist. (The Christian Science Monitor recently dubbed him “a modern-day Alan Lomax.”) My Name Is Buddy recalls Woody Guthrie’s Bound for Glory—that is, if it had been enacted by the articulate animal characters of Walt Kelly’s classic comic Pogo. Cooder conjures up the dark shadows of an earlier time to wryly comment on the political and social issues of the present. As back-story to his songs, Cooder has written short stories for each one and they’re accompanied by evocative illustrations from noted San Antonio-based painter and muralist Vincent Valdez, all of which are included in a specially designed package.