Saturday, July 27, 2013

R.I.P. J.J. Cale

A lot of the folks I grew up reading (Hunter S. Thompson), listening to (Lux Interior) have died, and it was a matter of time before one of my Sacred Five Songwriters (Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, J.J. Cale, Lou Reed and Renaud) also went down that road...

And yesterday, it was Cale, who died of a heart attack at age 74 in La Jolla, California (near San Diego).

The man whose songs were made popular by other artists - usually just a few years after he'd released them himself - such as Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty, Carlos Santana, and Captain Beefheart was widely considered as the pioneer of the Tulsa sound, which was pretty much a cross between blues, bluegrass and country found on either side of Oklahoma, where he grew up.

The only time I was aware that he came to Montréal was around 2003, but tickets had been sold out by the time I had gathered the cash for my ticket. A musician's musician, he was respected by the biggest names in rock, most of whom are in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:
Clapton, when asked by Vanity Fair several years ago "What living person do you most admire?" replied simply "JJ Cale." Neil Young has said, "Of all the players I ever heard, it's gotta be (Jimi) Hendrix and JJ Cale who are the best electric guitar players."
High praise indeed, but all well deserved.

I've covered three of his songs myself, Sensitive Kind, Magnolia, and Cocaine, usually a heckler-friendly tune to play in seedy bars in the wee hours of the night, though very few people are aware Cale wrote it - as is the case for pretty much all of his songs.

Losing this major talent is a huge blow to great music. I urge you to grab any one of his 14 albums, his 2006 collaboration with Clapton The Road To Escondido, or at the very least, his first hits package Special Edition, which also happens to be how I got to discover him as the CD was given to me by my brother's godfather, Jacques Thériault, on my 13th birthday.

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