Ry Cooder Interview

“Once you can see somebody play, I’ve always found this to be true, it illuminates the whole situation, how they hold the instrument, how they physically go about doing these things. Copying notes off a record is pointless. You got to know how they get themselves in a physical state and then things happen, they just seem to happen, that you know how that’s done or you can understand how it’s done makes a whole lot of difference. That’s why filming musicians is such a good thing, because then if you can’t go where they are, if they’re dead, you look at this film and you really understand a lot, just looking at a guy, you understand a lot.” – Ry Cooder, from the interview

  • Ry Cooder Interview Part 1 00:00
  • Ry Cooder Interview Part 2 00:00
Interviewee: Ry Cooder
Interviewer: Chris Strachwitz
Date: 02/26/1981
Language: English

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Some interviews contain potentially offensive language, including obscenities and ethnic or racial slurs. In the interest of making this material fully available to scholars and the public, we have chosen not to censor this material.

See below photo gallery for a transcript of the interview

Ry Cooder Interview Transcript:

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.