I freely admit that I”m most familiar with J.J. Cale through other artists’ covers of his songs. But his funky, bluesy, laid back style makes him one of the best songwriters to cover. It’s easy to perform a J.J. Cale song. That’s not to say the songs are simplistic fodder, or radio-ready pabulum. There’s a rich, earthy darkness running through Cale’s work. “Cocaine” is a perfect example of that–an addict’s love song that reveals both the seductiveness of the drug and its dangers: “She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie, cocaine.”
Of course, being best known as someone who’s biggest hits were for other people means you’re often underrated, and even forgotten. Cale didn’t seem to mind his less than superstar status, which is just one more thing that made him great. He didn’t play for glory, or probably even money (although I’m sure those royalty checks didn’t hurt). He played because he loved the music. J.J. Cale was one of the great, Criminally Underrated musicians of all time. The world will be a little bit quieter without him.
I’ve posted this long clip (posted on YouTube by austinpickers) because I think he deserves to be seen for the fine performer he was. And besides, it doesn’t get much cooler than J.J. Cale and Leon Russell together (not to mention the awesome backers playing with them).