Ry Cooder’s No-Border Music

Flaco Jaminez and Ry Cooder

Flaco Jimenez and Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder has  a mystical connection to Tex-Mex border music and his original songs and themes for movies such as Paris, Texas; The Border and Alamo Bay raised the visual images to another level. Here’s a live concert he did with Flaco Jimenez and others at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz in 1987. It’s not Tex-Mex, but it sorta is; it’s not rock, but it sorta is; it’s not soul, but it sorta is; it’s not gospel, but it sorta is, it’s not blues, but it sorta is, it’s not folk, but it sorta is. It’s no-border music, everything together guided by Cooder’s sense of what drives music at a fundamental level. Flaco is wide open in this concert: you can see him feeling the music.

The lyrics to  Across the Borderline (from The Border, staring Jack Nicholson) are great (Buddhist/Zen) poetry. Here’s Cooder’s version of Across the Borderline, and Freddy Fender’s version (who sang it in the movie) and the lyrics:

There’s a land, so I’ve been told / Every street is paved with gold / And it’s just across the borderline / And when it’s time to take your turn / Here’s a lesson you must learn / You could lose more than you ever hope to find / And when you reach the broken promised land / Every dream slips though your hand / Then you’ll know it’s too late to change your mind / ‘Cause you pay the price to come this far / Just to wind up where you are / And you’re still just across the borderline / Up and down The Rio Grande / A thousand foot prints in the sand / Reveal the secret no one can define  / The river flows on like a breath / In between our life and death / Tell me who the next to cross the borderline / And when you reach the broken promised land / Every dream slips through your hand / Then you’ll know it’s too late to change your mind / Cause you pay the price to come this far / Just to wind up where you are / And you’re still just across the borderline

Thank you John Dycus for reminding me about Cooder’s amazing work and recommending this concert film by Les Banks.

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One Comment on “Ry Cooder’s No-Border Music”

  1. david warren says:

    True that is! Ry makes terrific music across many genres, has a good sense of humor and writes intelligent songs. It’s too bad he isn’t emulated more by contemporary pop stars. I will go to the internet cafe today and watch this.


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