It Don’t Belong to You

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

There are a lot of reasons for criminal defense lawyers to like Ry Cooder. From Jackie DeShannon to Captain Beefheart and Randy Newman, Little Feat, the Rolling Stones, Taj Mahal and Gordon Lightfoot, and of course, on his own, the man has made indispensable music for almost half a century.

But it isn’t just his mastery of the music, and of more guitar styles than practically anyone else alive knows even exist. He sometimes sings about political and social corruption, class warfare, and how politicians like to reframe history and shift responsibility for deeds a dirty dog would find shameful.

He’s railed against the obliteration of native cultures, the arrogance of Manifest Destiny, and the exaltation of Wall Street over Main Street (“No Banker Left Behind” was a particularly fine skewering of a politician whose name I can’t quite recall).

Ry Cooder is going to do it again on 21 August with a new album that criminal defense and civil rights lawyers and their clients — hell, everyone — would do well to hear. It comes out in the dank of this year’s political campaigns, strangely titled “Election Special.”

I especially like the repetitive lyrics of the closer on the album, its advisory title (“Take Your Hands Off It”) aimed at the lawmakers among us who little note nor long remember the fundamental principles that got us here:

“Get your dirty hands off my Constitution.”

“Get your greasy hands off my Bill of Rights.”

“Get your greasy stinkin’ hands off my voting rights.”

“Get your greedy hands off the union.”

“What’s your sanctimonious hands doin’ in my reproductive rights?”

“Get your bloody hands off the people of the world.”

Plainspoken. I like that.

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