In the Summer of 1972, I was transitioning from 4th Grade and about to start into 5th Grade. I was also about to make a huge transition in another way. I was going to move from Eugene, Oregon back down to my land of origin in Santa Clara, California.
It was during that lazy Summer of 1972 in Eugene when I heard a new single appear on KEED-AM that grabbed my attention immediately because it fed something in me which would appear to have been instilled in me from birth. I was introduced to the sound of a Jimmy Reed Blues shuffle. Back during that Summer, I didn’t know what one was and I would not learn of the term until I was in my very late teens and early twenties.
The single was “Crazy Mama”. It was by this guy, J.J. Cale, and it had all of the elements that made up my life and my attitude back then. It was that guitar, man. It was that lazy shuffle. It was like any music that I dearly loved back then. It was what I was aiming for-a nirvana-like state of laid back enchantment. I heard it in the song and it set me on a course to realizing that I had it hotwired into my internal circuitry that I had this great affinity for anything that sounded like Roots music. It didn’t matter who it was by. All that mattered to me was that it was being done.
As the ’70s wore on, I would discover Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd and become totally enamored of the both of them. They saw that same thing in Cale as Clapton would later cover “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” and Lynyrd Skynyrd would cover “Call Me The Breeze”. It meant that I would be reminded of Cale and his importance in helping me to realize of my love of Roots music on a contuing basis. It was a good karmic repitition.
But I have to tell you something. Even though I dearly love Clapton and his cover of “AfterMidnight”, the one I would want to have played in the company of a lady is the original from Cale. My God! Talk about setting a mood. Instant snuggle mode is likely to be induced while listening that version. Theversion from Clapton is the one you’ll want to play later on in the party after you’ve made it with her.
I mourn the loss of Cale’s songwriting ability and his influence upon those artists who forced us to draw our attention on him. Just give me that Jimmy Reed Blues shuffle whenever I have those days where my anger just seems to build up inside and I just keep waiting. And then one of these days, I’ll sing to her in the laid-back way that I should naturally be when I meet her- “Crazy mama/where ya been so long?”.
— Steve Talia