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LIES, 1973

Lead Vocal: Mihir Worah

"He plowed a furrow that was unique ... but I still felt that he deserved more recognition"                                                    -- Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton calls JJ Cale's guitar style " ... really really minimal ... all about finesse ... " and Neil Young says that "[Cale]' s up there with Jimi Hendrix as the best electric guitar players I've heard."

I've always admired guitarists who play less to express more. BB King and JJ Cale are standouts in this category, but even Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton (as he aged) espoused minimal styles at certain points in their careers. All respect for the shredders like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eddie Van Halen - but they don't move me like the slow riders.

Southern Rock emerged in the early 70s as its own genre, pioneered by JJ Cale and The Allman Brothers. The genre is best known for raw, bluesy, guitar-centric songs based around a 'Southern' sensibility or lyrical theme. JJ Cale's sub-genre of Southern Rock, now known as "The Tulsa Sound" or "Swamp Rock," has an effortless and laid-back vibe, but never really grew past Cale's incredible talent. The harder-driving and less subtle wing of Southern Rock has meanwhile enjoyed evergreen popularity throughout the years, leading to modern bands like The Kings Of Leon by way of Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, The Black Crowes, and The Georgia Satellites.

JJ Cale spent his early musical years in the mid sixties playing sessions and clubs around LA. His break from obscurity came in 1970, when Eric Clapton covered Cale's "After Midnight" for his first solo album. This led to increased recognition, yet Cale mostly remained a musician's musician, refusing to even promote his songs on TV as they only aired lip-synched music at the time.

 

Cale died on July 26, 2013.

~~~

Clapton popularized both "Cocaine" and "After Midnight."  Lynyrd Skynyrd covered "Call Me The Breeze," and many artists have covered other well-known JJ Cale songs. This little gem, though, is one of my favorites. The song has a great groove - listen for it. It's a shuffle, but not quite! The guitar playing is economical to the max, yet so expressive; even though Cale only plays the minor pentatonic scale in one position on the guitar. Timing and dynamics convey all the emotion through a very simple subset of notes. The vocals, meanwhile, are buried deep in the mix - which works just fine for me.

This was one of the first songs we recorded. Parthiv laid down the drum and bass tracks, after which it took me a while to really get the feel for the interplay between the two rhythm guitars. After I'd recorded my parts I asked Parthiv to replace the guitar solo mid song with a bass solo. He graced me in the studio for 5 whole minutes and we recorded the bass solo in one take.

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Clapton @ The LA Forum, 2019