Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“Available Space”: Theme Song for ‘Bay Area Backroads’

About Ry Cooder 1970 promo single — “Available Space” b/w “Brownsville” — Ed Ward once wrote in The Rolling Stone Record Review:

“Ry Cooder is the finest slide guitarist and mandolinist in rock today, as his work with Taj Mahal and the Stones has amply demonstrated.  ‘Available Space’ is a funky, happy instrumental.  Short, to the point, it is a fine spacefiller in between records on an FM rock station.  ‘Brownsville’ is a traditional blues, played on mandolin, with a vocal.  Both of these cuts are light and snappy and a great change of pace from the turgid heaviness so much in evidence on the airwaves.”

“Available Space”     Ry Cooder     1970

Says the YouTube contributor who uploaded the audio recording:

“Jack Nicholson, and quite a supporting cast, as it turns out, starred in the hit 1978 comedy-western Goin’ South, which featured a track over the closing credits that would also become a beloved theme song for a San Francisco TV series titled ‘Bay Area Backroads.’

‘Available Space’ was recorded by a well-regarded slide-guitarist named Ryland “Ry” Cooder and was released on his self-titled debut LP in 1970 for Reprise Records.
Starting in the mid-1960s, Cooder worked with the likes of Taj Mahal, Captain Beefheart, and Van Morrison.  In the 1980s, aside from his session work, Cooder scored several soundtracks, notably Brewster’s Millions, Southern Comfort, and The Long Riders.  Most of these soundtracks showcased Cooder’s love for ‘roots’ and blues-rock music.  Pure Americana.

‘Available Space’ gained a new life when used as the theme song for San Francisco TV station KRON’s ‘Bay Area Backroads‘ from 1985 to 1993.  The series in that era was hosted by folksy Jerry Graham, former General Manager of rock station KSAN.  In 1993, Graham retired and was replaced as ‘Backroads’ host by Doug McConnell.  At that time, a similar-sounding instrumental replaced ‘Available Space’ as the show’s theme. ‘Backroads’ ended its incredible run in 2008.

Self-Titled album on Reprise

Ry Cooder LP

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