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Your favourite movie soundtracks #3: Dave Stockwell on Paris, Texas

Posted: August 20th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Paris, Texas is one of my favourite ever films, and it must be said that Ry Cooder’s soundtrack album is also one of my favourite ever records. And that’s just in its own right. The album barely more than half an hour long, and the majority of it is solely Cooder’s wonderful, slide-driven acoustic guitar with some barely audible sympathetic percussion. As a piece of Wender’s film, it’s a beautiful, transformative catalyst that charges the rolling landscape and directionless characters with ravaging, stark emotion and depth. The simple, lilting theme performed by Cooder at the start of the film, as arid cliffs and rock formations surround the mute man in a red cap called Travis, is one of the finest moments of cinema-making I have ever experienced.

There’s not just Cooder’s guitar on the album though. Harry Dean Stanton, who stars as Travis, pops up to sing a traditional song in Spanish, startling you out of any stoned reverie you might have drifted into. Stanton sings beautifully, by the way. And scattered amongst the delicate filigrees of guitar exploration, the penultimate track “I Knew These People” is the record’s most curious moment; an eight minute monologue by Stanton, with subtle, sympathetic guitar by Cooder creeping in to colour in textures and emotions. It provides the film’s beautiful denouement, and as such, is something to treasure on record… and also a horrendous spoiler if you haven’t seen the film first. Finally, the album ends with a cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was The Night”, revealing the source of Cooder’s inspiration for such weary, broken-down but elegaic blues as these. It’s absolutely stunning.

Buy Paris, Texas in diskant’s Amazon.co.uk store

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


1 Response to Your favourite movie soundtracks #3: Dave Stockwell on Paris, Texas

  1. Jhohn

    I agree with all of that.

    “I Knew These People” has to be the world’s number one tear-jerker.