Ry Cooder's 'Flathead'

ry%20cover2.JPGA note for any musicians looking for a way to sell records in the download era...the deluxe edition of Ry Cooder's new album, "I, Flathead" comes with a 100 page novella.  The book gives Cooder the chance to stretch out his memory (and imagination) of 1950s California, and the album allows him to conjure feelings subtly with just a few guitar plucks and a slide.  Fans already knew Cooder could turn out an engaging album, but "I, Flathead" is his first attempt at writing a book. Judging by how much fun I had reading it, I bet Cooder had a whole lot more fun writing it, and that makes me think we haven't read the last book from our favorite Santa Monica guitarist-turned-author.

Before producing this interview, I knew Ry Cooder best from his production of the album Buena Vista Social Club, and I'm not the only one.  That record and its musicians was embraced around the world and led to a surge of interest in Cuban music. I was a fan of Buena Vista and my father had a copy of Talking Timbuktu, Cooder's collaboration with the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure.  Now that that I've really explored his catalog, I realize that Ry Cooder is one of the most prolific guitarists this country has produced in the last 61 years. I really liked his early solo albums, Ry Cooder, Paradise and Lunch and Chicken Skin Music and his last three releases, Chavez Ravine, My Name is Buddy, and the most recent, I, Flathead have been educational, enlightening, and enormously entertaining.

Ry Cooder has made a career out of thinking, and acting, outside the box. In the 1970s that got him in trouble with his record label, but in 2008, the industry should be taking notes from him.

-Dan Bloom

Ry Cooder site with Nonesuch Records
"I, Flathead" official site
Buena Vista Social Club site with Nonesuch Records
Buena Vista Social Club documentary website