Track of the Day: ‘On a Monday’ by Ry Cooder

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader dissents:

Your Track of the Day feature is opening me up to new music I appreciate, from the cover series to the locations series and all the rest. Notably lacking is any mention of Ry Cooder. This is a serious failing that really needs correcting.

I’m still especially fond of his first three albums (that’s what cool people say, isn’t it: “yeah, I like his old stuff”), but his work over several decades has been phenomenal, not least being The Buena Vista Social Club. I seem to recall him being referred to as a music archivist or curator as much of his opus involves his take on much older songs from Calypso to blues. One of the best guitarists of our time, it is his arrangements that make so many of his songs unique and identifiably Ry Cooder’s.

Among his many covers, it’s really difficult choose a favorite, but I’ll offer up Lead Belly’s “On a Monday.” The mix of slide, electric and Dobro is superb.

My favorite cover of a Lead Belly song is from Nirvana—“In the Pines,” embedded below—and it’s a bit more transformative than Cooder’s cover due to the grunge/blues genre-bending, so it’s a tad more fitting for this series. Enjoy both! (And for tomorrow, enjoy “Tuesday,” because it’s the day after Monday.)

(Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)