Ry Cooder – Paris, Texas (Soundtrack)

LP, Released in 1985 on Warner Bros Records


Ry Cooder’s beautifully spacious ambient-western compositions are a transcendent pairing with this meditative, expansive film by Wim Wenders. Paris, Texas follows a nearly mute, stoic man who’s been lost in a southwest desert for years as he returns to society and tries to reconnect with his young son. His silence and contemplative demeanor makes the viewer project some kind of romanticized masculine stoicism onto him, but the film eventually reveals the shadow of this. While the dialogue of this climactic, unsettling moment is included on the B-side, the rest of the record mostly consists of Ry Cooder’s acoustic guitar, with impressionistic fingerpicking and short slide-guitar motifs that seem to hang for an eternity like a hawk soaring over the desert. Light percussion occasionally augments the soundscapes but never dares to settle into a consistent rhythm, because that would threaten the trance-like timeless feeling of the film. Cooder’s work here was definitely a huge influence on other sparse acoustic instrumentals for film, like Neil Young’s legendary Dead Man score or the great one William Tyler recently did for First Cow. Highly recommend checking this out, or even better, watch this film.

Style: Ambient Western, Acoustic Blues, Soundtrack

Vibe: Desert, Western, Contemplative, Meditative, Alienation, Peaceful, Lonely, Twangy, Rootsy

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Atmospheric, Sparse, Instrumental (except A4, B3), Spoken Word (B3)

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