Ry Cooder has always been a studious of the North America roots music, and although not from the beginning, subsequently of other countries, among which highlights his work, almost by chance, with Buena Vista Social Club. A slide guitar master, heavily influenced by old blues musicians like Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson.
Just a song by Blind Willie Johnson, guitarist and blues gospel singer, and one of the great masters of slide guitar, who have influenced hundreds of later guitarists, was the base on which the guitarist and composer built the soundtrack for Paris, Texas, using the slide as his main weapon. The main song, Paris, Texas, is the calling card and the base for the rest of the soundtrack.
This song is the magnificent composition “Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)“, 1927, (Ry Cooder described the song as “The most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music“), which is included as version at the end of the soundtrack, a gospel-blues composition in which the self-taught bluesman masterfully used his slide, with a heart-rending and creaky touch, which accompanied with his voice, falsetto with treble notes, following the melody.
That said, we will not go on the bluesman more, as he will have his own article.
No one can doubt that it is a sublime work of Ry Cooder, the best of all his works for many. Elegant, precise, thoughtful, and deceptive simplicity, which became, and still does it, in a reference for many musicians with many different styles, and of course for thousands of guitarists and slide style lovers.
The sound of the slide friction with the strings and frets, much more refined than the bottleneck of Blind Willie Johnson of course, suggests that bleak image of deserts, stifling heat, and that sense of isolation, of being anywhere in the world, without knowing clearly where, where there is nobody, no language, no roads.
Almost produces amnesia, the same one as the character performed by Harry Dean Stanton had in the movie, wandering aimlessly. German director Wim Wenders got an angel, or well, a slide, fallen from the sky, which got adjusted to his movie without a slightest speck of complaint.
We must also mention the cover version of the song Canción Mixteca, composed by Mexican musician and composer José López Alavez, who composed the music in 1912, and later, in 1915, added the lyrics. The lyrics talks about the homesickness of leaving the home region, and which the man from Oaxaca wrote after he and many of his fellow countrymen, had to emigrate from their Tierra del Sol (nicknamed the Mixteca) to Mexico City, in most cases. It is the only song sung, in Spanish, performed by Harry Dean Stanton, with his corresponding accent, of course.
Recorded at Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood, CA. Produced by Ry Cooder.
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