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Ry Cooder's 'Election Special' takes on 2012 presidential campaign

Quick chat: 'We have to hurry up and be smart,' says Ry Cooder, whose latest album, 'Election Special,' is a blues-rock-tinged commentary on today's politics.

August 20, 2012|By Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times
  • Ry Cooder's latest album is about politics.
Ry Cooder's latest album is about politics. (Chris Pizzello, Associated…)

L.A. guitar institution Ry Cooder is set to release his album "Election Special" Tuesday, a handy, nine-track blues-rock guide to this year's presidential election.

The subject matter? Republican and Democratic leaders, super-PAC funders and even Seamus, the family dog who rode in a carrier atop presidential candidate Mitt Romney's car. Cooder talks up his mission with Pop & Hiss.

What's your goal with this record?

Use your mind and think a little. Put the small screen down. We have to hurry up and be smart.

From the opening track "Mutt Romney's Blues," the listener knows where you stand politically. Is there a concern of preaching to the choir?

I thought I should have a record that says, "This here record is for you during election time." Rather than be vague and poetic, let's just call this what it is. That way I may get people's attention. That's the idea.

Are you surprised more artists aren't weighing in musically given it's an election year?

Corporate record companies aren't going to put this stuff out. They don't want it. They can't sell it. So even if some artists have political songs, who will put it out? Little tiny labels? That's so far below the radar you won't find out about it. In 1950, [topical folk act] the Weavers were top 10. Culture is different now. "

There must be something, culturally, that has you optimistic?

The Occupy movement. That's a sign of something. Those people are having conversations, and the conversations become issues and the issues become talked about. Pretty soon, the rest of the world picks up on it, even the politicians. Occupy is about unity. People talk, then they think, and then they act.

Twitter: @Toddmartens

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