Eric Clapton & Friends’ The Breeze ~ The Album and What It Should Teach Us All
With iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and all these other streaming companies that are out there today, I often wonder/worry about our current generation(s). It’s not that I am 100 years old, or even 50 for that matter, and ironically I work with technology in my “real job,” but we as a society are very much about instant gratification, a new app, streaming that song, etc., and sadly I suspect that many of today’s “music fans” aren’t true fans of music as much as they are addicted to hearing the most current YouTube hit.
If you’re curious as to why I chose to preface this review a with a statement on society and how it approaches music, allow me to share the very simple reason: I believe people, especially those who grew up as technology was taking over or after it already had, often forget or are disinterested in the history of music and are oblivious to the music legends who were part of it and who are still out there contributing their talents. Eric Clapton is one of these legends, and on The Breeze, he has gathered many of his other iconic friends from across the musical decades to pay tribute to a man who, himself an important (if largely under-credited) figure in the evolution of music, was a direct influence on ~ perhaps even responsible for ~ Clapton’s and others’ success: JJ Cale.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name JJ Cale, here’s a quick overview: JJ Cale, born in 1938 and passed in 2013, was a singer-songrwriter whose style was influenced by and infused with country, rock, blues, jazz and really anything he heard. His songs have been covered by superstars from all genres of music ~ Phish, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), John Mayer, Waylon Jennings, Lynyrd Skynyrd and, of course, one of his closest friends and fellow musicians, Eric Clapton.
Cale thought about giving up on music in the late 60s but his career was rejuvenated, in some respect, by his song “After Midnight.” Clapton recorded “After Midnight” in 1970 and many still consider it his most significant hit to date with the exception of “Cocaine,” which also happened to be written by Cale. Cale was also responsible for “Call Me The Breeze,” a noteworthy Skynyrd hit and the inspiration for the name of Clapton & Friends’ The Breeze. With over a dozen solo albums, a bunch of hits (“Crazy Mama” was his biggest), collaborations, guest appearances, and a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album ~ which he shared with Clapton ~ JJ Cale was no joke when it came to music.
Eric Clapton & Friends The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, featuring 16 hand-picked JJ Cale songs, is scheduled for release on July 29th, and as Clapton has always championed (as have many of his peers) JJ Cale as one of the single most important figures in rock history, not to mention a dear friend, this album is a genuine, heartfelt homage to one of the greats from many of the other greats, with appearances by some of Cale’s biggest fans: Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Don White, John Mayer, Albert Lee, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks, Clapton and many more.
The 16 tracks Clapton chose for the album are:
Call Me The Breeze
Rock And Roll Records
I Got The Same Old Blues
Since You Said Goodbye
I’ll Be There
The Old Man And Me
Train To Nowhere
I’ve listened to the album a couple of times and there are without question both highs and lows. My favorites from amongst the tracks were “Rock and Roll Records,” “Cajun Moon,” “Song Bird,” “Don’t Wait,” and “Call Me The Breeze.”
When asked about The Breeze, Clapton replied, “I would like people to tap into what JJ Cale did – that’s the point. I’m just the messenger; I’ve always felt that that’s my job. I try to interpret things so that the public at large, or at least the people who listen to what I do, will become intrigued about where I got it from.”
With that humble response and simple but incredibly vital intention, Clapton captures what legitimate music fans…those who truly love music and appreciate who and what contributed to everything from a single hit way back when to a catalogue of albums to a method of playing a certain instrument…should be trying to do, whether they are superstars or just music journalists like those of us FlashWounds: turn their audience on to the music that they love and that influences them, impart even a small bit of the history behind it, and not let music’s amazing journey be forgotten. And for any of our younger readers out there who may be rolling their eyes at the mere thought of someone trying to give them a history lesson or make them listen to “the oldies,” let me assure you ~ if you think there are some great scandals, stories about music celeb in-fighting, addiction, and cheating, arguments over rights to songs, mean stage moves, totally new sounds, and cool back-stories about how a lead singer came up with a certain song these days, well, all that stuff and more has been going on for a very, very long time…and has produced some of the sickest music ever that’s still being sampled and re-recorded today.
The Breeze is available for pre-order and order in multiple formats on both Amazon and iTunes.
For more on the entire album, all the musicians involved, Clapton and Cale’s first meeting and subsequent relationship, and the exclusive Eric Clapton and Friends The Breeze : Behind The Scenes mini-documentary, read our in-depth article here.
For more information about JJ Cale: jjcale.com
For more on Eric Clapton: ericclapton.com