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Ry Cooder Eyes LA

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In the May 1, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Lynell George's piece "Soundtrack for a Lost L.A." chronicles the evolution of Ry Cooder's latest album, "Chavez Ravine," and unearths a tangled episode in LA's history.
Scheduled to debut June 7th, the album, named after a Mexican American neighborhood that was bulldozed in the early '50s to make way for a promised public housing project that eventually became the site of Dodger Stadium, features seminal artists from L.A.'s Latin music scene like Lalo Guerrero, the father of Chicano music, Willie G and bandleader Don Tosti. Cooder, who was raised in Santa Monica, sees the project as an evocation and testament to the way things used to be in our city.

George writes "But it is also the story of his native city and his complex relationship with it: The crass overpopulated L.A. that he races to get through -- the city it has become -- and the one full of open space and secrets that resides in his memory."

We really liked the following observation because it acurately captures what we notice about this city:

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For many longtime Angelenos, the album's wash of moods, rhythms and cultural touchstones will be deeply resonant. That's because in many respects "Chávez Ravine" is the soundtrack to an intrinsically Latin city constantly in flux. But its story extends much further. "There is a part of this [neighborhood's story] that is fundamentally Los Angeles," says [UCLA professor] Dana Cuff, [ author of the influential book "The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism] "It's about landscape, about Latino history, architecture and modern housing. But it is a story of eminent domain that plays out in a lot of cities. Small houses of poor people of color become the terrain of the big dream of city fathers," she says. "That's why the story of Chavez Ravine hooks into one's heart. There was no easy answer. Big dreams are often imperfect. But we shouldn't stop ourselves from dreaming big."