Happy birthday to John Weldon “JJ” Cale:
I first came to know Cale’s work through other artists… notably Eric Clapton who covered the songs After Midnight and Cocaine with great success.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings also covered Cale songs.
Although I was familiar with all of those cover renditions of Cale tunes, I was unaware of the writer until clued in by a fantastic singer songwriter I met in Great Falls Montana.
His name is Grant Stebbins and he played in local bands and solo around that town.
He had this fantastic subdued style of guitar playing that just seemed to fill the voids needed without overpowering any of the other instruments or any vocalists that he was performing with.
Grant and I talked about music for hours and he educated me on many of the artists that would come to dominate my listening over the subsequent years.
Artists like Lowell George from the band Little Feat and writers like Leonard Cohen.
He also instilled in me a love of the writing and playing of Joni Mitchell, which I had never considered before meeting Grant.
But one of his influences that he turned me onto was JJ Cale. Specifically the 1976 release Troubadour that held the aforementioned Cocaine song that Eric Clapton made so famous.
The album is a gorgeous recording that really highlights Cale’s whispering, almost laconic, vocals and his laid-back, bluesy, yet jazzy guitar styling.
Thank you grant for introducing me to JJ Cale… happy birthday rest in peace JJ.