Another American Treasure was lost when J.J. Cale died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 74 Friday Night. Cale was credited with creating the The Tulsa Sound, although I believe it already existed and I am almost certain that that sound was his interpretation and adaptation of what he heard night after night while growing up as a kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Still, it took an enormous talent and ear to do what J.J. Cale did and in a sense he paid tribute to each and every musician that plied their trade before him on the stages of his hometown.
Ironically J.J. Cale’s music is embedded in the conscience of those who follow popular music yet not that many people really know who he was. His so-called “best songs” were covered by Lynnard Skynnard (“Call Me The Breeze”), Eric Clapton (“After Midnight” & “Cocaine”) and Tom Petty (who often refers to J.J. Cale as one of his major influences before unleashing a brilliant “Thirteen Days” at live concerts).
But that’s the way the man was as J.J. Cale made it a point to stay out of the popularity limelight, preferring to simply making music his own way and then playing before devoted fans in mostly intimate venues. His blending of Country, Big Band, Blues and Rockabilly has culminated in a unique genre of Americana or Roots Music called The Tulsa Sound.
Now the first time I listened to J.J. Cale, and I mean really listened, was in the mid to late 1970’s. And it wasn’t by accident either – as music was beginning to sound pretty much the same to me after enjoying the many variations offered us during the music explosion of the 60’s. Still I was looking for something that would not only move me but keep me coming back for more like a giddy child.
And that is exactly what happened after listening to J.J. Cale for the very first time. I was hooked for a lifetime and there hasn’t been a day since then that I don’t put something by J.J. Cale into whatever media device is available. Matter of fact, as I write this I am listening to the “Anyway The Wind Blows Anthology” and should point out for those of you who may be unfamiliar with his works – this would be a great place to start your own J.J. Cale journey. So if you are interested, this set is a great sampling of the varied works of an incredible song-writer musician and guitarist.
But I must be honest tonight. I can’t help feeling sad every time I hear the newsman say “Another American Treasure Lost: J.J. Cale Dead at 74.”