Ry Cooder Responds to Arizona Immigration Law – Guitar Player Magazine

Arizona Immigration Battle Inspires Fiery New Ry Cooder Single Quicksand (Nonesuch) Available Exclusively Via iTunes On June 29

GP Staff

Ry Cooder has recorded an incredible new song “Quicksand,” inspired by the AZ immigration battle.  It will be available on iTunes starting June 29, with all proceeds benefiting MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund), Ry Cooderbut you can hear the song right now at http://n.pr/bZWlLJ
In response to the immigration battle currently raging around the country, six-time Grammy winner Ry Cooder wrote “Quicksand,” a slow-burning rocker that tells the story of six would-be immigrants making their way from Mexico to the Arizona border. The track, which will be released exclusively on iTunes on June 29, features Cooder’s son Joachim on drums, along with backup vocals by Lucina Rodgriguez and Fabiola Trujillo of Mexican roots band Los Cenzontles.  Cooder has chosen MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, to receive all proceeds from sales of the single.

Thirst, hunger, injury and fear befalls Cooder’s immigrants during their journey.   “Quicksand I think we lost direction,” he laments in the chorus, referring to more than just the song’s protagonists, “I think we’re sinking down.” At the border, a vigilante in a Dodge Ram turns away the song’s only two survivors. “I think you’d take more pity on rescue pit bull dogs,” the narrator pleads before turning around to face his death sentence in the scorching heat of the desert.

”The Devil’s Highway has been used by migrants traveling on foot for over 100 years,” says Cooder.  “You should try it sometime. Out there, temperatures can get above 130 degrees.  If you fall down, you have religious hallucinations, then you die, cooking from the inside out.  If you get lucky, you might make it to Yuma, but then what?  That’s no comfort station they run up there, cabron.”

MALDEF President and General Counsel David Damian says, “Defeating Arizona’s SB 1070 – and the potential copycat laws that have since been announced by unscrupulous legislators around the nation – will require a broad national community effort to reinforce the constitutional principles and values that characterize our nation.  Our heartfelt thanks to Ry Cooder for being a leader in that necessary community effort.”

Accompanying the single is original artwork by celebrated Latino artist Vincent Valdez, whose work has appeared on previous Cooder albums and on exhibition in numerous museums including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

About MALDEF: Founded in 1968, MALDEF is known as the “law firm of the Latino community”, and also led the litigation that defeated California’s similarly inhumane Proposition 187 several years ago.  With this experience, MALDEF is working to defeat Arizona’s SB 1070 law and uphold the values of our constitution.  For more information go to: http://www.maldef.org

Musicians & Health Care: Alejandro Escovedo

from the Wall Street Journal blog, Speakeasy

By Steven Kurutz

Alejandro Escovedo has had one of the more varied careers in music. In the late-’70s, Escovedo was a member of the San Francisco punk band the Nuns, followed by stints in Rank and File and the True Believers, several excellent, under-the-radar solo records, a near-fatal battle with Hepatitis C, and, finally, his breakthrough albums of the aughts. On the cover of his latest release, “Street Songs of Love,” Escovedo looks lean and strong, like a man who has fought to achieve his current position and has no intention of relinquishing it. “I’m not new to this business. I’ve been doing it for quite a while,” Escovedo says on the phone from London. ”I’m not about to stop, I can tell you that.”

Your brothers, Coke and Pete, played with Santana; your niece is ’80s pop star Sheila E., and another brother, Javier, formed the seminal punk band the Zeros. And now your son is joining you in the musician ranks. How did music become the Escovedo family business?

There was always music in the house. My father was a musician, a singer. It was just part of our daily makeup as a family. Music was always there. There’s also 12 kids. One of the kids was showing another kid a new dance or how to play a rhythm on a drum. Family gatherings were all about music.

Several musicians, including yourself, have struggled with health problems made worse by not having health insurance. Why is this such a an issue among musicians?

I would first have to say it’s not just musicians. Poor people, old people, people with AIDS, people with cancer -– there’s so many people who cannot find good health care. We should just get over it and have universal health for everyone. It’s obviously harder for a musician. When I was brought down with my illness, whenever I would go to someone for help, there were a lot of people who would refer to this illness as a lifestyle illness, in the same way they did with AIDs. Why should we help this guy because he stayed up too late and drank too much and whatever.

Does this say something larger about the status of musicians in our culture?

To be a musician in America is to be a person who really doesn’t get any respect for what he does. And yet I think that music and the power of music is so important in our lives. The public recognizes the bigger bands. Yet there’s this whole world of bands that travel in vans and sleep on floors. We’re like Fuller Brush salesman; we just go door to door.

Dave Marsh on the US Social Forum

Tales from the Land of Hope and Dreams  by Dave Marsh

I had quite an experience at the U.S. Social Forum (ussf2010.org) on Saturday. It came at a workshop on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/rbwstudy.html) that I attended with my friend, Marian Baker of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization(mwro.org). Her husband, General Baker, of the League of

General Baker

Revolutionaries for a New America (lrna.org), was chairing a discussion by veterans of the League (and its predecessors, DRUM and ELRUM). The next thing I knew, Marian had hauled me  up to the tables at the front of the room and told me to pull a chair next to Gen. I felt pretty weird, the only white guy on the dais and, I think, the only male in the room wearing a collared shirt with long sleeves. Then again, I was sitting next to people I’d known for a few decades. I just could’t figure out what it looked like.  Click here to read more. . .

A Few Words From the US Social Forum — Lew Rosenbaum

First, full disclosure: I am reporting from my safe position behind an information table for the League of Revolutionaries for a New America (LRNA).  I say this because I want to make clear that I only had the opportunity to attend one of the sessions, so I am not giving anything like a rounded impression of all that went on.  Also, I’m confining my remarks to some publications I sold or bought during the Forum, and why I think they are important. On Tuesday afternoon, while waiting in the lobby of the COBO Hall convention center, where the bulk of the events took place, I had a chance to catch up with General Baker, one of the founders of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers

General Baker (photo courtesy of Speakers for a New America)

(LRBW).  Gen was one of the first to refuse induction to fight in Vietnam, famously proclaiming that he would be happy to serve if the army deployed to fight for the rights of Blacks in Alabama or in Detroit.  Now a retired auto worker and LRNA member, Gen has been advocating for the rights of those destroyed by the implosion of the auto industry. He calls them part of a growing class of dispossessed, a new class permanently separated from connection, through the “point of production,” to capital. While he makes clear Detroit (and the world) is facing something new in history, he respects the legacy of the LRBW.  To this end, he showed me two remarkable documents.  He is selling DVD copies of Finally Got The News a documentary of the formation of the LRBW which creates a compelling visual excitement about the period. (The film was made in 1970 by the Detroit NewsReel group and reviewed in Cineaste by Dan Georgeakas), To complement this cinematic recreation of the LRBW era, Gen also has a cd that contains hundreds of pages of the print documents that provide a treasure trove of research materials unavailable elsewhere.  Later, at the LRNA table, Gen brought down posters of the original DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) slate for union election, a poster which sold out at the convention.  Finally Got the News is available for $20 and the Documents for $25 from the People’s Tribune. One of Gen’s retiree colleagues, who goes by the nickname Waistline, wrote a pamphlet  welcome to Detroit which became the hit of the People’s Tribune table next to me.  I picked up a copy, was immediately pulled in and read it, and was delighted with what I read.  When Waistline came down to the table to autograph copies, I jumped in line to tell him how much I enjoyed it, as much for the engaging writing as for the information it conveyed.  Detroit: A History of Struggle, A Vision of the Future lays out its perspective from the first page: “Detroit is the rise and fall of the heavy metal — the industrial working class.  Our rise was as spectacular as our fall.  Our rebirth will change human history.”   Waistline’s reborn Detroit does not come from urban gardens, though that may play a part. It comes from a class becoming conscious of itself in response to the economic polarization of society, and organizing itself against the corporate takeover of the government.  Waistline’s report comes from the grass roots, from below, from analyzed experience, not from an academic think tank. The pamphlet is available for $3 from the People’s Tribune web site. A couple of years ago I saw a film that simultaneously made my blood boil and chilled me to the bone.  Called The Water Front,  this documentary showed how people living by the side of one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world had no access to drinking water.  The people were residents of Detroit, the victims of privatization of public resources.  The

Image from "The Water Front"

consequences were huge water bills and utilities shut-offs.  Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) spearheaded the fight to preserve the right to clean water, as captured on that film.  Marian Kramer was one of the organizers of the US Social Forum and the water issue was prominent in discussions leading up to the Forum.  I was delighted to find on our literature table a pamphlet inspired by the Detroit struggle,  Water Wars — Coming Soon to Your Town!, written by good friends Steven Miller and Danny Alexander.  According to the authors, “Humanity is up against a global system of private property that is doing a really good job of wrecking the world and not much else.”  Miller has reported elsewhere extensively on how private property is destroying education;  Alexander is intimately familiar with the way the recording industry violates the rights of listeners to and performers of music, in the name of private property.  Here they extend their already detailed knowledge to the privatization of our natural resources, something that faces many cities.  In Chicago, we have lived with encroachments on our public services, and the mayor is threatening to privatize water, the consequences of which we can predict from this excellent pamphlet, available for $3 from the LRNA web site. Another LRNA pamphlet on our table that was extremely popular was entitled Foreclosures: The Reasons, The Results, and The Remedy. The authors of this pamphlet are not willing to accept that banks need to be bailed out.  They are also acutely aware that nationalizing the banks can simply lead to protection for the banks.  In their words, “The struggle for bank nationalization is therefore inseparable from a struggle to remove our current government which is run by and for corporations and replace it by one that is run by and for the dispossessed who are now the majority of our people.”  This pamphlet is available for $2 from the LRNA site. Both Water Wars and Foreclosures include a good list of sources and further readings. Last, but not least,  Rally Comrades! (the political paper of the LRNA) produced a selection of articles over the last two years which, taken together, provide an excellent estimate of our current situation.  It grounds the concept of revolution not solely as a mental construct, an idea around which people fight (although new ideas play an extremely important role).  Instead, On the Edge of History starts with a understanding of a decisive point in the economic revolution that takes place independently of the will of human beings.  The editors posit that unlike previous revolutionary periods, the motion of this revolution is toward a cooperative society.  It is, however, a motion that capitalism is resisting.  The interesting contribution that this pamphlet makes is that just as the existence of the working class is undermined by laborless production, so too is its contradictory pole, the capitalist class.  The reorganization of society must take place — but will it be around the distribution of goods and services according to need?  Or will fascism reorganize society to protect private property at the expense of the people? This pamphlet is available for $3 from the LRNA site as well. Taken together, this series of pamphlets and materials goes beyond the question of individual or small group defensive, survival patterns which our political system encourages.  There is no doubt, for example, that people or communities faced with food that is poisoned or not available will turn to cooperative or individual gardening to help themselves survive.  However the key question left unresolved by these defensive measures is related to class, the state, and the rule of the corporations.  Whether we are talking about the history of Detroit; foreclosures, housing and the banking crisis; or privatization of public resources, all roads lead in the same direction.  If the people do not take over the corporations, then fascism will overtake the people.