Ry Cooder ‘Quicksand’ single targets Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law


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Ry Cooder has added his voice -- and guitar -- to the raging debate over Arizona’s recent SB 1070 law targeting illegal immigration with “Quicksand,” a fiery song he posted on iTunes this week.

The veteran guitarist, singer, songwriter and world-music enthusiast sets the stage with a spoken-sung sketch of a ragtag group of people who start their northbound journey from Tamaulipas, southeast of Monterrey, Mexico.


With help from his son, drummer Joachim Cooder, the elder musician accompanies himself with gritty, bluesy electric guitar as he follows the group as they travel through the mountains along what’s known as the Devil’s Highway. After being abandoned by their coyote guide partway into the trek, one by one they lose friends until only two are still traveling when they reach Yuma, Ariz., where they are promptly picked up by a vigilante with deportation on his mind.

Well mister it’s 120 degrees back out there
It’s just me and the boy, the rest are gone
I think you’d take more pity on rescue pit bull dogs
Call us Charles and Bronson from now on

“The Devil’s Highway has been used by migrants traveling on foot for over 100 years,” Cooder said of the song. “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?”

Cooder tapped Latino artist Vincent Valdez to create the portrait used as the cover art for the single. All proceeds from sales of the track will go to the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund.

-- Randy Lewis

Cover image: Vincent Valdez

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