J.J. Cale Biography
You can't rush the good things in life. And that includes J.J. Cale.
"Yeah, they told me it's eight years since the last studio album. But it doesn't seem that long," he says, scratching his head and wondering where the time has gone.
Now the long wait is finally over and he's back with an immaculate and classic collection of new songs. To Tulsa And Back (Sanctuary Records) is both different from what has gone before, and yet also reassuringly delivers the familiar, hand-tooled, trademark sound that has made Cale a musical legend for more than 30 years.
Over his career Cale has harbored a healthy suspicion of change for the sake of it. The whims and caprices of fad and fashionability have left his timeless genius unmoved. But one fundamental change was forced upon him this time around. He had initially planned that the follow-up to 1996's 'Guitar Man' would be recorded in Nashville with Audie Ashworth, who began producing Cale's records back in 1971 with 'Naturally,' the unforgettable debut that included songs such as "After Midnight," "Call Me The Breeze," "Magnolia," and "Crazy Mama."
Cale and Ashworth continued working together over the years, setting up their own studio, Crazy Mama's, when Cale moved to Nashville in 1975. "We were going to do the record like we did in the old days," Cale says. "Two old friends sitting around talking music and playing songs." Sadly, Ashworth passed away before they could start work and Cale dedicated 2001's 'J.J. Cale Live' album to his old friend's memory.
So which direction to go for his first studio album in eight years? Cale - who these days lives in the southern California desert - decided to go back to his roots. Back to Tulsa, the town in Oklahoma where he was born but left decades ago.
There he hired a small studio owned by drummer and old friend David Teagarden and looked up the good ol' boys he had grown up with. "I drove down there and we found all the guys I had played with in bars when we were young fellas. We spent a week tracking in the studio, but it was like a social thing with barbecues and stuff, as much as a recording session. I played with some of these guys 40 years ago and I tell you, I don't think there's anyone on this record who's under 60 years old."
The result is a wonderfully warm, rhythmic and relaxed record that preserves the unique down-home flavor that has come to define J.J. Cale's music. That, of course, is exactly how his fans want it. Indeed, there would probably be a riot if Cale tried to change now. So what is it about the Tulsa scene and the sound that came out of it that Cale's music has come to embody?
"I don't think there is a Tulsa sound as such. It's just individuals," he says. "But I know what you mean. In western Oklahoma you've got a lot of country music. Then in eastern Oklahoma, it's closer to the Mississippi and you've got more blues musicians. In Tulsa we got influenced by both and there's some jazz in there too. So I guess that's what made my sound."
Whatever its origins, the Cale sound has profoundly influenced artists such as Eric Clapton and Dire Straits, and his songs have been covered by everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and the Allman Brothers to Johnny Cash, The Band, Santana, Captain Beefheart, and Bryan Ferry.
J.J. Cale Bio from Discogs
Professionally known as J.J. Cale, he was an American singer-songwriter, recording artist and influential guitar stylist. Though he deliberately avoided the limelight (being temperamentally averse to celebrity) his influence as a musical artist has been widely acknowledged by figures such as Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Eric Clapton who described him as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock”. He is considered to be one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country and jazz.
Died of a heart attack on July 26th, 2013, at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA, USA.