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Remembrance and Resurrection: Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine

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Abstract:

This article explores Los Angeles guitarist Ry Cooder's project to excavate and resurrect through music the lost community of Chavez Ravine, the vibrant Mexican-American neighbourhood bulldozed in 1958 to make way for the construction of the Dodger baseball stadium. The article draws critical parallels with Marcel Proust, of whom Hannah Segal writes: “On realizing the destruction of a whole world that had been his he decides to write, to sacrifice himself to the re-creation of the dying and the dead. By virtue of his art he can give his objects an eternal life in his work”. Proust's medium is the written word; Cooder's is the dance music of the Pachucos, the corridos of the Ravine's local heroes and the laments of the residents driven away by the bulldozers. Through this music, Cooder's aim is to ensure that the name “Chavez Ravine” and “all the images that had been living in it” (Proust) will not remain eclipsed by the corporate power and self-congratulation of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03007760802188413

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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