A Conversation with J.J. Cale
J.J. Cale: This is Cale calling for Frank.
Puremusic: Hi, Frank here, how you doing? Where are you today?
JJC: I'm at home. I'm in San Diego. Well, I don't live in San Diego, but that's the closest big town.
PM: Are you out in the desert these days, are you in a trailer or a house?
JJC: No, I'm in a house. I've been here. I actually live in a house now. I lived in a trailer quite a long time, but not lately. No, I actually have a house, a yard, all the regular trappings of a domestic life.
PM: [laughs] Well, like a lot of your fans, and I'm certainly a fan, it sure was great to see a new studio record come out. It'd been some years since Guitar Man.
JJC: Yeah, eight years. I'm really speedy.
PM: [laughs] Yeah, right, you're just firing 'em right off.
PM: Oh, but only three years since the live record, right?
JJC: Yeah, I put out a live record since then, so it doesn't seem that long to me, because I put a little energy into the live thing. Nothing like a studio thing, because it's pretty much all done when you go live. But yeah, since then I've put out a live album [the 2001 CD fittingly titled Live].
PM: But I know that as an old studio hound yourself, once you go in to cut something, you probably get real deep into it, and it takes a lot of work to get a studio record out. Is that how it is still?
JJC: Yeah. I'm a shade tree engineer. I used to make a living as an engineer before I got into songwriting. And so yeah, I overly screw with it because you can. And I don't think that really helps it any at all--it probably hinders it, really. But I think all us musicians, engineers, studio kind of people, we definitely screw with it more than we should.
PM: Yeah, we just do it because it's fun.
JJC: It's like a puzzle or something, like a video game, you can mess with it all day long.
PM: [laughs] And I think that To Tulsa and Back really hits that spot that truly only a record of yours hits.
JJC: Well, thanks, man. I try, sometimes, to get out of my own bag, but it ends up that all my records kind of sound like they're me.
PM: And thank God they do, because it's that bag that we're looking for when we go to the Cs in the collection for a Cale record. That's what we're looking for.
JJC: I try to get out of it, but like I said, you can't change that--I can't, anyway. I guess I could with electronics and studios and all that kind of stuff. But I'll eventually say, "Well, that don't really sound like me."
PM: Yeah. And I don't think we can change it in terms of how we write a song.
JJC: No, no. That's true. I've tried to do that.
PM: And that sucks. [laughs]
JJC: Yeah. It just ended up that I didn't like it. And I'd go, "If I don't like it, I don't think anybody else will." continue