get to know “The Road to Escondido”

I remember calling a local FM station a while back and complaining about their song selections.  While continuing a friendly banter with the DJ,  he asked me what artists I thought should be featured and one I had mentioned was JJ Cale.

“The only song he has to his credit is “Crazy Mama”, not much else.”  came the miffed reply.  I did mention “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” but by then those songs had already become staples of Eric Clapton.  That seems to be the way it is for JJ Cale, writing songs for someone else to perform, record and make their own.  Like Tom Waits ” Ol’  ’55” being recorded by the Eagles or Jesse Winchester’s “Oh!  What a Thrill” taken on by the Maveriks,  JJ Cale is largely known as a tunesmith.  “Call Me the Breeze” is another example of this, written and recorded by Cale but recognized as a hit from Lynard Skynard.  He has even stated his own albums are made in hopes of enticing other artists to record the songs contained in them,  a tactic  Jesse Winchester has used.

So when I heard of the collaboration between Eric Clapton and JJ Cale I was immediately enthused.  Having long been a fan of both, I knew this rare blend had to be a classic and I have not been disappointed.  Cale has a funky blues/jazz sound which plays perfectly into Clapton’s “slow hand” style.  There are several big name guests including John Mayer and the late Billy Preston which make this production seamless and appealing.

But songs like “Sensitive Kind” and “Magnolia”, though recorded by other artists in the past,  have proven to me the soft spoken ability of JJ Cale to express a tenderness that few have rivalled.  Though Clapton may have taken the spotlight due to his long standing, well deserved time as a mega-superstar, the songs contained on “The Road to Escondido” could have been easily carried by JJ Cale himself.  Maybe they wouldn’t have garnished as large of an audience as a solo effort, but they would have shined all the same.

But like one of JJ Cale’s own songs from the new CD asks, “Who Am I Telling You?”  Check it out yourself.  Maybe discover JJ Cale all over again for the first time.



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