Night Music: Steve Vai and Ry Cooder (channeled by Ralph Macchio), “Crossroads Guitar Duel”

I was at the library and happened upon a collection of short stories called Los Angeles Stories written by Ry Cooder and published by City Lights Press. I just read the first one and it’s plain clear writing and storytelling, with a bit of surreal effect, and a voice that I’m looking forward to visiting with some more.

That’s not surprising to me. Cooder is one of my favorite artists, and he knows Los Angeles. One of his greatest records is Chavez Ravine, an epic in song telling of the story of the development of the Chavez Ravine barrio in Los Angeles, turning people’s homes into a baseball stadium. I was going to post one of that album’s many great songs, and then I found this bit of extreme cheese.

Dueling guitars is all you need to know. I don’t remember how the young karate kid gets into this fight with rock god Steve Vai, but I did see the movie, Crossroads, once upon a time. I believe souls might have been involved. Vai plays his own part, while Cooder plays the part Macchio pantomimes. The drama is crazily false, while the guitar playing is appropriately incendiary given the Hollywood stakes. This is fun.

Ps. On Steve Vai’s Wikipedia page it says he started in Zappa’s band, went solo but also played with Public Image Ltd., Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. Talking about a crossroads.

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