I believe JJ Cale was sent to us to teach us about simplicity.
I believe JJ Cale was a Bodhisattva returned to the Samsaric world to enact for us all the quiet power of soul.
I believe JJ Cale was born to play for us the sound of time meeting space.
If, as Dainin Katagiri said, every moment is the universe, then JJ Cale was sent to us to play the note that embodies this.
With JJ Cale, every note was the universe.
I use the past tense, because JJ Cale is with us in this world no longer.
Paul Draper recently wrote, of our decision to embrace ingredient labeling, “We believe that for anyone attempting to make fine wine, modern additives and invasive processing limit true quality and do not allow the distinctive character of a fine vineyard to determine the character of the wine.”
Substitute the word “music” for the word “wine” in the above sentence, and the word “artist” for “vineyard,” and you have what could have been the mantra for JJ Cale’s approach to song.
For anyone attempting to make fine music, modern additives and invasive processing limit true quality, and do not allow the distinctive character of a fine artist to determine the character of the music.
In a previous incarnation of my life, I had the honor and pleasure of performing with JJ Cale. I was the opening act, he the headliner. The show was at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz; sold out show. I was a young musical artist at the time, still trying to learn my craft, and that night, I witnessed a true master class. I had never seen such a devastatingly perfect display of emotional control as I saw that evening; JJ Cale was astonishing. He was so quiet, so precise, yet so soulful and so swinging, and when he did raise his voice even a single db, or softly stomped his boot, it was as if a thundercloud had burst, as if an earthquake had shaken the building. Just one man, on a chair, with a guitar, and a voice. No modern additives, no invasive processing. I will never forget that night. It was so beautiful.
The great Soto Zen Teach Dogen wrote, in his death poem:
Four and fifty years
I’ve hung the sky with stars.
Now i leap through—–
Farewell JJ Cale. Deep bows, and a safe journey to you on your way through the stars.
To read Paul’s full discussion of ingredient labeling, please click here.