Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Blues for Mama"

This is one true fave of the Back to Tulsa album. Great solos too!

I think it's in the key of C minor. Or, actually maybe it's C Dorian? Who cares.  :D

The main part is:

The Blues for Mama bit is: [Cm][Cm][Gm][Gm] x2

The rest her soul bit is:



The modulated bridge part at the latter part of the song, starts at around 1m35s, is:



acoustic solo bit 1m54 - 2m07s:

-12'-10-8-10 12'-12'-10-8-10~-10H12-8-(10)------------


The solo after 3min kicks in the same C minor pentatonic kicks off
...approximately like this:


Monday, December 14, 2009

"Thing going on"

(EDIT: I think it's kinda ambiguous, but having tried tabbing the solo, I now think the Db chord for the bridge is minor not major, so Dbm instead)

This one's kinda off pitch. It's a bit flatted from Ab. 
The main progression is a walk up:  
[Abm]Look here [B]we got a thing going [Dbm]on[Ebm]
[Abm]Never fear [B]we got a thing going [Dbm]on[Ebm] 
the bridge is : 
[Dbm]Ain't nothing to it[Abm]Got to get down and do it
[Dbm]I tell you the truth[Ebm]Ain't jivin' you

Intro takes off:
so basically it's all Abm pentatonic... but man it's sweet! 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"You got something"

Finally doing something off the great Troubadour album! 

This one's simply just G to C and back forever...
For the little guitar fills it's a lot of G and F 
(17th and 15th fret on D string., for example), 
...and then some other notes of the G minor pentatonic. least that's how I approach it... too lazy to dig it all out. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Things ain't simple"

This one's for Kent by request, so I hope I am not way off now! :D 
Please DO correct me if I am! :)
It's in Eb. 
Intro is Eb, strumming a boogie shuffle a bit like this:
The main part:
[Eb]It's so [Bb]sad to say
[Ab]Talking about [Eb]yesterday
[Ab]All those [Bb]good times are [Eb]gone[Bb]
The bridge: 
[C][C]We took love [Bb]easy 
[Ab]One day at a [Eb]time

Monday, December 7, 2009


This sweeet track is very simple. 
Just going back and forth between D and A for forever. 
[D]Mona she comes in the [A]morning
[D]She brings me a bottle of [A]wine
The bass track is basically D and A,
with a little a walk up to the note at the end of previous bar:
.D.......A.......D.......A ...etc
The one lead up to D, in brackets, appears less frequently.  

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"I'll kiss the world goodbye"

Above the tools of my trade. ;)
I am not 100% but hear this classic something like this: 
[B]I've been so [A]lone in these [B]prison walls
Good lord, [A]thinking I would [B]die
You've got the [A]time to [B]get me out
I'll kiss this [A]world good[B]bye
[E]The rain keep [F#]falling and [B]I feel [A]fallin
[B]Lord, I [A]think I'm gonna [B]die
solo (basically B mixolydian):


Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Ridin' home"

Finally really getting to the great early stuff here!

[F]I'm sittin' on this train and I'm ridin' home, ridin' home
I'm sittin' on this train and I'm ridin' home, [C]ridin' home
[F]I've got my bag and I'm ready to go
[Bb]I wish this train didn't move so slow
[F]I'm sittin' on this train and I'm [C]ridin' home, [F]ridin' home

Friday, December 4, 2009

"fate of a fool"

This is yet another Dm-C thang!

[Dm]Spending my life in a cold hard bar room
Drinking that [C]long black whisky [Dm]down

The constant bass is just the basic root-fifth thing:
E:---5- for Dm chord

E:---3- for C chord






"Nowhere to run"

This one is off the great "In session" DVD (it's in the same key on the record too):

[G]Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide
No way to relieve this feeling in[D]side
Lord, you done gimme them [G]blues and then you took a ride[C]
[C]Left me with [G]nowhere to run [D]nowhere to hide [G][F] [C][G]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Deep dark dungeon"

This is a simple 8-bar blues in E:
(I play like the open chords, except 12 frets up)

Intro in E minor pentatonic (1st box here) has the the repeating figure over the progession:
B:-15'----15'----- the turnaround before he starts to sing:

...and the end of the outro goes like this:

Here I am naturally only tabbing the intro/outro guitar that is easier to hear. There are a couple of overlapping solo guitar tracks on there...

Monday, November 30, 2009

"right down here"

To my ears this is just a Bm-E jam:
[Bm]My woman, my woman, [E]you know she cryin'
[Bm]She keep... etc etc

In the intro before the drums, it starts off with Bb bass note pickup before strumming the Bm chord, then Bb bass note again and strumming the Bm chord... then the song kicks off...

...with the intro solo bit:



Both of these end a bit fuzzy to my ears, so they might not be accurate or in full there... but I am outta time again, so I won't be able to delve deeped today, maybe later. Basically the Bm pentatonic, with emphasizing E major chord notes while that's playing in the progression.

"Hold on baby"

This one's a 12 bar blues in A (AAAA DDAA EDAA)
...and hear him playing this kinda boogie shuffle (this one's the A chord one) with palm muting:

i.e. A5 A5 A6 A5 A7 A5 A6 A5

The D shuffle part is the same as A, but one string higher, and E is the same as A, but one string lower.

The intro looks to be repeating at the end of every other bar:

and this is the turn around lick at the end of the progression:

(Yes, that's just first half of the intro... the second half is a variation of this, so I think it's enough to just wing it)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Goin' down" (Don Nix)

Oh, just realized, this is not a JJ tune, it's a blues standard. Have to look into the music of this mr. Nix, never heard any, I think.

Oh well, here's it anyways...

JJ plays it the key of A. Like mentioned in a set list post in this blog before.

The chords are:
A for the first "I'm going down" part...
then the walk down of A, G, D, C (close, that, boxcar, down ... or ... down, down, down, down) followed by some A...
D for the 2nd "I'm going down" part...followed by the walk down part again...
E chord for the "Got my big feet" part... followed by the walk down part again...

Here's some takes on the song:
Freddie King
(Looks like Nix, JJ and Freddie all were on Shelter label, btw)
Keith Richards
Jeff Beck 1983

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"My baby and me"

I really like the Rewind album, has that good ol' sound...!

This one's a real country number in the key of D.

Intro: C, B, G, D...

and I think something like this (but on a steel guitar):


Can you play something [D]easy
Can you play something [A7]low

Can you play something [G]lonely
My baby might [D]know

Can you give us one [G]moment
One memo[D]ry
For it might be the [A7]last dance
For my baby and [D]me [G][D]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Livin' here too"

Another quickie off album #8. To me this always sounds sort of like a second rate try to make another Cocaine, because of the similar riff. But hey, it's JJ, so I love it. :D

The riff is played like this:

I play them like open E chord but up fifth fret for A and 8th fret for the C and 10th fret for D.

The bridge part is just D and C each strummed only once at a time:
[D]My mother was poor, [C]my father too
[D]I'll take anything I can [C]get from you


Not my fave, but well, it's simple so here's the chords:
It's a 12 bar blues in G. Ending with two bars of G, like usual for JJ.

The intro solo bit seems to open with slide up to D7-shaped G7 at :


I'm not too sure about that, but at least sounds ok to my ears over the intro... :d

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Mississippi river"

This is where it's at! Real JJ groooove! Why nobody has tabbed this yet? Maybe somebody has, too lazy to do a search...

The verse goes Dm-C, Dm-Am, like this:
[Dm]Mississippi River railroad track
Want to go to Memphis [C] my baby [Dm]back
Get me a motorcycle take off tomorrow
If it don't run [Am] get me a car

I use the fifth fret barred Dm (x57765) and play the C xx555x) just by lifting the other fingers, just leaving the one barre finger on board. The Am is at the fifth fret too. So all those three at easy reach, so you can concntrate on the groooooooove, not the changes. Actually I don't play full barre, I have the thumb over the bass strings instead... lazy ol' back porch style fretting... I dig it.

The chorus is:
[G]Walking down the highway
[Dm]Thumbing down the road
[G]Got to get there
[A]How I don't know

For the G there I use the open G5 chord: Gx00033. Where I thumb the two bass strings. You needn't do that, I just find it comfy. Anyway, the way I pick this G for the intro bit is:
-0---------0------ where the last four notes I might strum as well (two up strums, then a down strum and an upstrum)... and then it's to the D minor chord which I play again up fifth fret. Then the G picking thing and then pounding the fifth fret A major chord to end the progression.

The ending going down the neck, something like this:
Dm - C - Bb - Am (which is 10th fret, 8 fret, 6th fret, 5ft fret)
Gm - Fmaj7 - Gm - C - Dm (third fret, first fret, open, open, open)

(where the latter Gm I fret like this 3x0333. I guess Em7 would work too)

For the ending Dm this "Dm add2" sounds kinda nice:

No solos this time. Maybe later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Oh Mary"

So this simple rhythm and blues groove came on the shuffle now, and my ears tell me it goes like this:

Intro: G

12-bar blues in G

chorus :
just play G chord, except for these bits:
- One chance if I [D7] can

- [D7]Let me be your loving [G]man

guitar solo at 2m10s takes off like this:


... so basically G minor pentatonic noodling with a fuzzy tone...

"Cherry Street"

Not one of my favourites, so, here's just the chord progression...

It's a 12 bar blues in Ab:
Ab for four bars
Db for two bars
Ab for two bars
Eb for one bar
Db for one bar
Ab for two bars...

Again there is no fifth chord at the end there... he just doesn't seem to like it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Lean on me"

This one stays on the Dm7 forever until falling into C for a bar and going back to top... so the C bit is at:
Lean on [C]me, baby [Dm7]child
Won't bring you [C]down, just lean on [Dm7]me

Solo at 1m34 takes off:

----------------------------------------- that's using the Dm pentatonic, plus the note of 2nd (or call it ninth if you wish).

"These blues"

This one is a bit tougher for me to hear... but I think it goes like this:

These blues (chords are 8th fret Cm, sixth fret Bb7, fourth fret Ab7, third fret G7)

[Cm]A hundred miles is not too far
Unless you have to [G]walk
Life, it seems, is like a dream
Until you have to [Cm]talk

...that loops forever, until...
...the chorus of "If it don't work for you, girl"... etc:
Cm Cm Bb Bb Cm...
Cm Cm Bb Bb Ab...
Cm Cm Bb Bb Ab Ab G G
Ab Ab Bb Bb Cm

intro solo up to 12s.:


...too busy to do the rest now, but I love the solos and solo tone on this one (sounds like a track almost two decades older!), I wish I will have the time to really look into those sometime later! Looks like Cm blues scale (= minor pentatonic plus b5 note... on fret 11 of G string), plus the 2nd and the sixth.... hmm...

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Precious memories"

The most country song he ever made, maybe. Just love the choir of JJ voices. You'd think all country songs are in C or G, maybe in A. But no, this one's in B...

The lyrics are from but I wonder if that's what he really sings? The lyrics delivery is fuzzy... never thought about it... always had teh lyrics very clear in my mind... but... well... I guess they just weren't that clear in my mind... Is it "well, I travel" or "As I travel"... so I always thought...

[B]Hell, I travel [E]on life's pathways
[B]Know not what the years may [F#]hold
[B]Hell, I've wandered, [E]oh, grows fonder
[B]Precious memories [F#]flood my [B]soul
and the same progression repeats...



so that's playing around the B major pentatonic again, slides up to and down from third again for that country sound. And I hear a pre-bend down from third to the sixth fret of G string (= second interval of B), notated as ^6 in the above tab.

Then there's the country style walk ups to chords, like the end of that intro, walking up the B major scale to the note of B.

some past interviews

Here's some JJ interviews from recent years:
of course there's more on

...and here's the April 2009 gig in Eugene, very lo-fi as it is recorded on my cheapo cell phone:

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Ooh la la"

Well, the lyrics... ooh la la... Pure sexual innuendo nonsense. :)

Chords for intro and the verse are

and the chorus (the "ooh la la" bit):

So by those it's easy to say that this song is in G mixolydian. In the key of G there'd be no chord of F, you see. Mixolydian is like the seventh chord version of major scale (which is maj7 scale, so it has the F#, not F).

Hey what's with the solo, it's clear as a bell! Is it some Albert Lee solo or what? Sounds like it was played with a stratocaster. Maybe the mocha colored one on the "in session" DVD, who knows?

solo at 1min12s:



------------------------------------------------------ the solo is in G mixolydian too. Or, basically it's the G major pentatonic scale box #1, but the C note (i.e. fourth note of the G scale) is added. Typical slides and bends up to the major third (very common in country and blues).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Nobody but you"

Sounds like this song is just two chords: A and D. Going back and forth every bar (or two bars, who knows).

And there's a riff that is the same for A and D but five frets apart (or one string)... this one might be wrong, but here's how I think it goes (this the A one):


In the beginning there is one guitar going between on fifth fret (or 5p4h5) A note on the high E string, and the 10th fret D on the high E string.

"People lie"

Then there's the political songs of JJ Cale. Like People lie, The Problem, Unemployment, Downtown LA, Trouble In The City, Livin' Here Too, Stone river, Homeless, etc.

I think #8 is the darkest album of his. With a black cover to boot. Maybe that's the other part of why I never liked the album that much (the other being the thin tone). Just look at the list of the 9 JJ penned songs: Money talks, Losers, Hard times, Reality, Takin' care of business, People lie, ... all the songs are about the tough modern world.

I dig this line in the lyrics of People lie:
"Well, I bought me a new car, a limo, no doubt
The wheels fell off, the salesman he was out"

The "wheels fell off" bit reminds me of Neil Young's Piece of crap, where he sings "bought a plastic bag, teh bottom fell out, it was a piece of crap". Yes, quality isn't what it used to be...

The song is in the key of E. For once, a true white man's blues guitar key! Maybe it part of the more urban sound?

Anyway, it's a basic 12 bar blues:

The end of the song has a ending lick similar to many of JJ's song closing phrases. Of course he mostly closes with a fade-out, to hide off mistakes, he says. But I think it's just part of the package, the feel you get to hear a 2 minute clip of a great old 25 min barn jam! :D Leave them hungry for more, I say!

Anyway I will get to the ending and some other licks of this song later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

about the list of songs with no tab available elsewhere

Looks like there are more JJ song tabs on the web than I thought.

With a quick search on the web, I found chords/tabs (some of the chords in the brackets) for:
Cherry (G, C, G, D)
Cloudy Day (C#m, Fm, ... Fm, A, G#, B)
If I had me a rocket (G#, C#, D#)
Out of style ("Katy kool lady") (Am, E, Am, E, Am, G, F, E, E7, Am)
The Problem (Bb, Ab, Eb, Bb, Ab, Bb... Eb, F, Bb, Ab, Eb)
Take our some insurance (D, A, D, G, D... G, D, C, D)
That kind of thing (Gm Bb F Gm ... Bb C Gm D7#9)
You keep me hangin on (C, G, Am, G... F, G, C)
Low down (12 bar blues in G)
Teardrops in my tequila (C,Em,Am7,G, C, F, C... C,F,G,Am...)
Homeless (C, G, Am, F, G... also an Em in there)
Guess I lose (Gm, C, Gm, D7, Gm ... also A#, Gm, A#, D7)

So I won't be tabbing these out either, you can google them if you need them. :)

I will continue with rest of my list (of ~126 released songs), then. And will continue to be as accurate as I can (in one sitting), but will never post complete tabs or sheet to any given song (just chords and intro or similar). So if one fine day somebody decides to compile a book of complete sheet music or tabs of JJ songs, there is still the use/need/market for one. :D

About JJ's Harmony guitar's "low impedance humbucker" pickups

I knew JJ had some white low impedance humbucker pickups on his Harmony, pickups which he said were from a Les Paul Signature guitar. But I always though he just meant they are from any old Gibson Les Paul. But as it happens, "Les Paul signature" was a 70s model that is a cross between a Les Paul and a ES-335, with these white low impedance humbuckers. Plus out-of-phase switch and another varitone kind of a switch.

By those specs I think it's totally a JJ Cale kinda guitar. Way back in the seventies, he said he loves Gibsons, and also played ES-335 and Les Paul guitars a lot. And the Harmony had all sorts of tonal controls and switches. I think he might've gutted all of the electronics from a "Les Paul Signature" to his Harmony (although he said he originally had wiring from a Danelectro in it). Why? Didn't he like playability of the "Signature" model? Don't know...

Here's somebody's vid about an Epiphone remake of the Les Paul signature:

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Can't live here"

For the most part this one just stays in Bb5 (like E chord but at the sixth fret, and playing just the two or three bass strings). Boom boom chicka, boom boom chicka.

Change to Eb (5 frets higher than Bb) in these places:
[Eb]man he ain't gonna like it
[Bb]No you can't live here like this anymore

[Eb]wonder what you do now
[Bb]What's your mama gonna say about you when you get home

There's is a solo there somewhere, and I bet it's Bb minor pentatonic. Too lazy and late, to check...

To me, this just a quick throw-away kind of a little tiddy. But gotta love the Tulsa delivery of all the "whip yo butt for sure now"s and stuff. :) Yes, I'm glad Clapton hasn't made a huge hit out of this. :D

"Let's go to Tahiti"

This one's not written by JJ, but has his stamp on it for sure.

Don't hear any changes, just E5 all the way through. Or Eminor, if you wish. If somebody begs to differ, please let me know! :)

The guitar thingy up to singing goes something like this (I hope!):



... so basically just E minor pentatonic (but I tabbed here in the x79987 chord position, or 3rd pattern box of minor pentatonic).

JJ and drugs

(disclaimer: I never smoked a cigarette, don't drink often, never had any drugs. I don't advise anybody else to do those things either.)

"Cocaine" is the most known JJ song. But at least by my impression and JJ's 1977 interview, he himself did marijuana... cocaine just wasn't the thing. He said he knew all the musicians through knowing all the drug dealers, which I find kinda funny (in a sad way).

"Cocaine" is mostly seen as a pro-drug song. I don't see it like that, really. I think it is a straight-on account: It feels good, that's why people take it, but you know it ain't good for you. It's of course up to you if you take it or not.

Anyway, here's some interesting mentions of JJ in books about drugs:
"If the current fashion for cocaine is related to drug's outlaw status and its use by 'rebel' entertainers such as John Belushi, J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton, Richard Pryor and Keith Richards, then cheap, legitimate cocaine would probably be much less popular".
(Chester Mitchell: Drug solution, 1990, page 242)
"In the 90s, several over 30s musicians, such as JJ Cale, Tom Petty, and Sheryl Crow, released albums that lauded marijuana"
(Preston Reet: Under the influence, the disinformation about drugs", 2004, page 252 ...the same page 252 also mentions the song "Cocaine" as "hardly a negative" view on cocaine use)

By that pro-pot album, I assume they refer to "Days go by" ("When you light that funny cigarette...") on Guitar man album. Although I don't do that stuff, I think the song is OK. It's cast in a positive light, but not 100% positive. To me it's the way he sees it, and I can understand it. I like the "it's illegal, but what isn't these days, no matter what you do, they'll put somebody on the case" (though I don't really think marijuana should be legalized in my country).

To me a song like "Reality" off album #8 is potentially a bit more disturbing:
"One toke of reefer, a little cocaine
One shot of morphine and things begin to change
Things don't seem quite like they used to
As reality leaves, so does the blues"
...but being a grown-up, I do understand what he is saying. People take alcohol or other drugs to forget their troubles. I don't think JJ uses morphine even though he mentions it, it just fits the lyrics. But what do I know. :P

JJ himself has said recently he doesn't do drinking or drugs anymore. Adding that he most probably wouldn't be alive, if he did. I bet he has seen too many good lives ended too soon by all that.

He does still smoke, though. A couple of years ago he replied "soon", when somebody asked when he is quitting. But well, he hasn't, yet. But, hey, it's all going to end for all of us someday, even without the new laws. :P

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"T-bone shuffle"

I wonder where JJ got the T-Bone shuffle he plays on the "In session" DVD and live too. It doesn't really sound the same, to me, as the "T-Bone Shuffle" from T-Bone Walker himself. But you can make your own conclusion by listening to the all sorts of versions here: T-bone Shuffle on Amazon

Anyway, JJ plays it two ways on the DVD, here's the regular one (I don't know if I play the correct neck position, didn't check the DVD now):


Basically it is in B-flat (like I mention in a previous post), and that riff just repeats and repeats. The first three notes sometimes are repeated before playing the second part.

The other one is "T-bone shuffle backwards". I will cover that later, maybe. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another bluesy tune: Lou-Easy-Ann


Another variation on blues. Great boogie tune, and 5 is one of my first faves among his albums (at first in around 1991, I had the Special edition, but then Grasshopper and 5 were my early faves. "10" was the first one I bought right when it came out, and I hated it!).

And this one comes to the third topic of JJ songs: traveling. It isn't the only song he's written about N'Awlins, and he's pretty much covered all other great cities of USA along the way. And has a another song about Lousiana, that mentions girl named Lou-Easy-Ann: Louisiana women.

I'd like to visit all towns he mentions, haven't really visited many. Although I did shout loud, along with the others at the Aladdin in Portland in April, when JJ sang "from Portland, Oregon, to the mexican line"... :)

Anyway, back to Lou-Easy-Ann...

The chord progression:

So it's in the key of G, but starts off on the IV-chord instead of the I chord. Again it ends on the I chord (=G), not the V chord (D).

All E-shaped barres (8th fret, 3th fret, ... 10th fret). That's how he plays the chords on the "In session" DVD.



So if I'm hearing correctly, he plays the G blues scale (G minor pentatonic + C# note).

In the "In Session" DVD he seems to be moving between the 8-11th fret and the 3rd-fifth fret for the intro solo, so I tabbed in that way. It's not 100% like in the DVD, as I tabbed the song off the record instead (it's too much of a hassle winding the video back and forth).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday morning comes too early, work my back to the bone

Tired after the weekend, so here's the chords to Blue Sunday "a day late":
C5/// C5/// F5/// F5///
C5/// G5/// C5/// C5///
(the solos are on a steel guitar or something, so I ain't tabbing them)

So it is a variation of 8-bar blues, like Who's talking. Add solos in C minor pentatonic per your taste. :D I have the tendency of playing the V-chord (here the G chord) as the last bar of any blues progression, but (to my ear) JJ often just stays on the I-chord (here C chord) in the end, not overly emphasizing the end. I think he just plays the I-chord at the end of Who's talking too, but I just like to play the V-chord at the end.

I dig the Rewind album of unreleased tracks, though some covers, like Golden Ring, they could've left out. Also, it should have Katy Kool lady on it instead of Out of Style. Out of style isn't unreleased, what's up with that! Or is it a play on the "5" mistake, having another mistake here? But anyway, still some gems on the unreleased stuff too!

Yes, I will take care of "Friday" one fine day. May not be this Friday though, as I am traveling again. Friday is real groovy, just stays on the same D chord for what I hear... but that still needs more work... any tips?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

a quick tiddy: Who's talking

Put the about 145 JJ songs I have on disc (and are not covered by the two tab books or the Steve Chapman tabs) on a shuffle, and this song came up. Of course, Travel-log is another true fave, better than #8 and number 10 combined. Even though I remember JJ saying he likes the albums with numbers as their names, tonally those two aren't all that hot.

The main part of the song (already goes through this twice before the vocals kick in):

I play this just in E shape barres (so G is at third fret, D is at 10th fret, C at 8th fret). So I basically just play the bottom two or three strings, so all the 3 chords might sound like 5th chords most of the time, instead of the sevenths... I just wrote them like that because I fretted them like that.

The mid section is maybe just G, and a D7 at the end. Or something like that. Didn't have time to really listen to it... I just strummed a G higher up.

This is the first 35 seconds of intro high clean solo guitar:



So it's basically G minor pentatonic scale again. Or actually G minor blues scale, if you count the b5 note on the 2nd fret of the B string. In my trascription I am in the 5th and the first scale pattern box.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

JJ gear posting update

Just to add and confirm my previous list, he had these guitars:
- Two ES-335 / 345 models, one (red?) with a vibrola, the other (sunburst) with a fixed bridge. I assume both are Gibsons. (see Rewind cover leaflet)
- a sunburst Danelectro Longhorn guitar (see Rewind cover leaflet). He also had a Danelectro bass (or Silvertone).
- Several Les Pauls (one was a '52). Gibson Johnny Smith model, Gibson ES-330, Stratocaster, Martin acoustic with a DeArmond pickup (GP, April 1977)
- At first The Harmony only had a Danelectro pickup. Then it went bad and was taken out. Then two low output Gibson humbuckers from a Gibson LP were added, and out-of-phase swithcm and bass cut off selector. Strings were 009-039 (GP, April 1977). Later two more higher output "P90s"-like pickups were added, and a Sears Silvertone bar/lipstick pickup. And add a lot of knobs and switches for taste. (more info in the Paradise studio DVD)
- Gibson double pickup 125 used in recording.
- And what is this vintage Epiphone style of a jazz guitar:
- Previously I mentioned JJ had Texas-made telecaster pickups. I meant Rio Grande Muy Grande, Halfbreed, Vintage Tallboy. But actually these could be a Stratocaster set instead (being a set of three). But somewhere Rocky Frisco, JJ's keyboard player, said JJ gave him one of JJs Telecasters. So he's had one.

As for amps:
- Also had a 1964 Twin Reverb and used also a 4x10 Bassman
- Fender Deluxe amp used for some recording
- a tiny Pignose amp
- for mid-seventies European tour rented a Marshall (maybe he played it Finland too?) (GP, April 1977)

And effects he had in the 70s (as per GP article):
- VOX patent pending wah-wah pedal
- MXR limiters, MXR phaser
- Maestro Boomerang pedal
- Fender Wah-fuzz
- Fender Volume pedal (Mark Knopfler used a volume pedal on his great early stuff too... makes the guitar cry and sing! :) )

Another simple tune: Boilin pot

Some would claim that all JJ Cale songs are either about pot or about sex. So I guess boiling pot is one of the quinessential JJ songs then? Well, yes I know, it's not about pot, just sex. ...She whispers in my ear...

This simple tune has a some covers on youtube, where you can see how the chords go: (Dm and C) (Am and G)

The original is Dm - C. I think you could say that it is a D dorian progression with chords of i - bVII... if that kinda thing gets you off. :D

I was thinking of tabbing this one, but, well, the venerable misters Poindexter and Steve Chapman have done that already.

I don't know if theirs is correct. The interval bit at 1m20s goes in Dm pentatonic, about like this:



... and then back to C and "She keep me hot..."

JJ cale covers on youtube

In my youtube "channel" I favorited a bunch of amateur covers of JJ. A couple of pro ones in there too.

Most of them have something of worth, like a sneak peek at the chords played... :D

Here are some picks:
- KENOEFF has quite a few great covers live at his living room.
- RAYBLUE69 has made the best imitations of JJs recordings (about 27 of them) I've ever heard.
- Mickclipes has a real nice Precious memories cover.
- Rett Wills really knows his You got me on so bad.
- Harris Brothers get a on a roll with a great rendition of "If You're Ever in Oklahoma"
- And I always dug Howard Emerson, here's his "Crazy Momma"
- Harry De Visser, without just imitating, gets a very "JJ" sound going with a take on "Former me"

Also JJ Cale said he was influenced by Clarence Gatemouth Brown. What could be a greater honour, than being covered by one of your idols: Don't cry sister

And while Tom Petty was a special guest on the recent tour, I never knew they played some JJ on their gigs too, like "13 days".

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another blues tune: Runaround.

in the JJ yahoo group like 3 years ago somebody requested a tab for Runaround. I love the lyrics of this one!

So here's my try in a single sitting:

Key of C, 12 bar blues:

intro and ending both follow the C minor pentatonic box at 8th fret.

intro up to vocals:


ending (the last couple of notes are maybe not played, but sound right to me):

simple bass line suggestion (I am no bass player!):



Standard dislaimer and all that! All corrections welcome!!!!!! :)

Oh that mysterious mr. JJ

In the early to mid-seventies, we had a music magazine called "Musa" (=music). They did reviews of the first three JJ albums as they came out. All of them got quite good reviews, but none were given any "instant classic" status. Though 3rd of them, Okie, was the album of the month, they were slightly disappointed with it.

Although their earliest reviews complained the music lacked edge, the editor-in-chief and some of the other journalist at the mag slowly got really big into JJ.

Here's some quotes from the article on JJ Cale from 1974, by editor-in-chief Waldemar Wallenius, since then a major figure in Finnish rock journalism (and even ran for EU parliament a decade ago):

"There's something about JJ that makes a grown man squirm on the floor from pure pleasure, making sounds of cry and laughter"

"...I am not far from crying out loud, so strongly his sighing touches the deepest parts of my soul"

At first at the office, JJ was considered just a midly interesting artist,
"but then the record was on the turntable constantly, and there were five editors fighting over who can listen to it... and so there were already 5 JJ Cale fans in Finland".

"Naturally and Really are in the top ten records of all time, and it is of no use anybody claiming otherwise. It is a fact. Just believe it!"

"So I've been meaning to write an article on JJ Cale for half a year, so that word would spread. The only problem is there is no info on him to spread"

... he adds, in the beginning of this 4 page article, and continues with info like this:
"Readers with eagle eyes and an astute memory will remember, that in both our album reviews [Naturally and Really] we have mentioned that JJ Cale is blind. The source for this information is long lost, but the belief in it grew stronger by all the photos of him, as his eyes don't look normal. But now the well-known Rolling stones magazine had an article about him, and apparently he can see very clearly, as among others he says, he has been watching TV. I wonder how the facts stand on this now? Oh well, the music still remains, regardless".

I'll get back to playing JJ guitar in a day or two. But just wanted to post this bit, as I always found it amusing. JJ got into the brains of these guys so that they wrote about him, although didn't have any facts to share, except the bit about Naturally and Really being in the top 10 records of all time. Well, at least that fact has stood the test of time. :D Anyways, lessens my load, I ain't the first nonsensically about JJ!

(translations are mine, thus quotation marks are used quite freely here. The source is "Musa", 4/1974, pp.32-35 if anybody wants to check :) )

Friday, October 16, 2009

Artists influenced by J.J. Cale

There are plenty of people influenced by him. The short list usually being Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler.

Clapton's first solo album, "there's one in every crowd", "Backless" and "461 Ocean Blvd" are the one's that come to my mind for JJ influence. "Backless" of course also has EC's "Golder Ring" which JJ covered. Here's Clapton's less known JJ cover from "Backless" album:
I'll make love to ... on Amazon
and here's a relaxing song off "No Reason to cry":
County jail blues ... on Amazon

When Dire Straits album On every Street came out, I bought it, even saw them here at the local stadium. But this song at the time sounded to me like very JJesque:
When it comes to you ... on Amazon

... well it sounds like Mark Knopfler to me now. Always been a big fan of the first album of Dire Straits, or even the first three. On every street isn't one of their best. But anyway, I assume there are similarities in the beat of the early DS and JJ, just from liking them both! :D

Also a *very* popular songwriter here in Finland (his albums always go to top ten, or #1) called J Karjalainen was heavily influenced by JJ cale in the beginning (this was the 80s). Even his band was called J Karjalainen and mustat lasit. Mustat lasit means sunglasses... in other words Shades (as per JJ's album). And J Karjalainen, although his real name, to me that is not far from something like JJ Calelainen! :)

Inspired by JJ, this J. Karjalainen guy even bought a Harmony guitar and played it on the first Mustat Lasit -album. Karjalainen says about that time:
"I didn't like my electric guitar, sold it, and got a cheapo acoustic to mimic Cale."
"Cale hit me very hard. There was no pretending, no painted faces, no long guitar solos. Just real easy, laid back home grown groove"

Here's one upbeat track from Karjalainen's early live album:
Jussi sä oot hyvä mulle
Name of the track translates to "Jussi, you are so good to me". Jussi the Finnish version of the name John. But I wouldn't know if he means John W. Cale. :D

For really short clips of Karjalainen's two early albums:
first album
live album

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another song: Pack my jack

Shades is another true favorite album of mine. Oh my. It has live feeling unlike any other records of JJs.

Pack my jack is one of the long grooves on this record. With no other but the GREAT James "Jumpin Jim" Burton on one solo guitar! He also plays on the Travel-log album.

By my ear it is a 12-bar blues in G. So it goes:

The first 15 seconds of the intro solo, to my ear, are something like this:


where ' denotes a small bend and ^ is a bigger bend. The x are muted strings, so there is rake across the muted strings, that lands on the fretted 11th fret second string.

So he looks to be playing a mixture of G minor pentatonic and G major pentatonic. He plays around with the third, which is very common in a lot of solos anyway: slight bends on the minor third (B string 11th fret) to go to a bluesy note (short of the major third a fret up), or the bending (or hammerin on) one fret up (from minor third to major third).

OK, this was a quick one, hope it is somewhere in the ball park! :)

Our "band's" first take of After midnite rhythm

Here's our recent first basic take of the after midnight, my sorry ass on the bass:
After midnite basic track
We haven't played it before or since, nor have any of us played it in a band before. Next time we get together, there will be vocals and solos and things. But most likely I won't be posting the full version. The video photo is from JJ tour this year (taken by me).

Being a JJ fan, I always liked this slower version, compared to the original 1960s faster version, or the Eric Clapton version of that. The laid back groove is what draws me in!

Anyway, After midnight is in a sense the most important JJ song, it's the one that kick started his career as solo performer and song writer. The lyric bit "After midnight, we gonna let it all hang out" was heard by JJ on some club gig.

Tab to this song is available on line at many places:"after+midnight"
But I have actually never played it by that tab, nor do I know if it's accurate etc.

It's easiest to think of the song being in sections of 4 bars:
So there basically two differing 4-bar phrases, and the 16 bars goes like this: the first phrase is played twice, then the second phrase once, and then again the first phrase once. And then back to the top... repeat forever as needed, or until the soufflé falls flat on it's face. :D

Monday, October 12, 2009

2nd song: Tijuana

I always loved the Travel-log album, and Tijuana is a great song!

To me the song sounds like your "fake flamenco 101" of playing the open E major chord 022100 and then going a fret up to 033200, which is Fmaj7(b5). Playing the "opening the full fist of fingers" strum with fingers makes this sound like poor man's flamenco. To play a flamenco solo on top of it, it's important to play E and F and Ab and A, as these notes a fret apart, played boldly gives the flamenco sound.

But back to JJ.... looking at the video on youtube:
Tijuana live
I think you can just play E and F back and forth... sounds good like that too. He plays both the barred F and not barred F at the 1st fret.

Anyway... the youtube version looks to be just those two strummed chords and nothing else really happening guitarwise. In the intro he is basically picking through the chords, to make a sort of an intro.

The solo is E minor pentatonic. For me it sounds like B-string 5th fret, 8th fret, 12th fret and 15th fret. But by the vid, he clearly is playing the Em pentatonic 1st box up on 12th fret:

Will have to really listen to the original again. I actually only have it on LP, plus live versions on the Collected 3CD set and in some bootlegs.

My gear and playing

I play a Squier strat and an Epiphone Alleykat (on the right). The latter is a little bit like a cross of a les paul deluxe and a ES-335, so that's the one for JJ Cale sounds.

My bass (on the left) is an Epiphone Allen Woody Rumblekat (short scale). I like the clarinet player Woody Allen, but this bass was designed by bass player Allen Woody instead.

Both Epihones are rather recent, so I am still learning how to handle them.

My only amp is a Roland MicroCube, but I used to also have a BF 1965 VibroChamp, which was just sublime. Also have a Ibanez 10W bass amp on loan from a friend, but don't really use it much. I record with Zoom H4 and Audacity. Also trying to learn to record with Reaper software, which I've hear good things about.

For effect stomp boxes I have a DanEcho, a Daddy-O overdrive, and a Line 6 Constrictor compression pedal. The first two I've had for years, the last one I bought very recently. The overdrive I haven't used in years. The DanEcho is good for rockabilly slap, the Line 6 I bought for JJ stuff. Was just intriqued what a compressor might do, for funk rhythm, country lead, and JJ Cale stuff.

Here's my first recording with the two Epiphones, and I try to play in the style of JJ:
The progression is a mess of some JJ things. So it's like Lies, Cajun Moon and After midnight mixed together.
Dm, F, G,
Dm, F, C,
Dm, G,
Dm, G, A
... or something like that, I forgot already!

Here's another one, on the Stratocaster I have, playing just on one string up on down:
The chords are Dm and A7. And the solos is the open D string, playing a minor pentatonic or dorian or something like that.

Keys of JJ's songs

I was talking about song key centers below.

To aid the ear, here's the set list from ca. 1993-1994 San Francisco gig with keys:
River boat song = E, F#
Mama don't allow = Bbm (?)
Old man = A, B
River runs deep = A
Don't cry sister = D
13 days = A
Cajun Moon = F
Rocks?! = D
Cocaine = C
Hold on = A
Riding home = F
People lie = E
Bringing it back = F
Going down = A.

This being a copy of the set list, it is what it is, I cannot confirm for sure. I guess the duplicate keys means it's capoed: So two song are capoed on the second fret, by that logic.

This one's from Seattle 2009:
Cajun moon = F#
Artificial paradise = B
Ride me high = C
Sensitive kind = B
Anyway the wind blows = F#
I'll make love to you anytime = B
Whit solo song = G
Crazy mama = F#
Dave Teegarten sang Reed's Baby what's wrong with you = C
After midnight = A
Magnolia = C
T-Bone = Bb
Call me the breeze = F#
Cocaine = B
Roll on = F #
--- encore not listed:----
Borrowed time
Travelin light

JJs influences

I'd like to dip into his influences too. And I have. :) Here's some:

JJ has noted that he is a big fan of Clarence Gatemouth Brown, so some of his licks may come from there, like the one I just tabed below. But he plays the T-Bone Shuffle a lot, so I assume the T-Bone lick above comes directly from the source. And Gatemouth got his real start by replacing T-Bone in all thos eyears ago, so it's all good anyway. :)

He also mentions he really enjoys The Highwaymen album. by Waylon, Willie, Johnny and Kris.

And he also says he is an admirer of Mose Allison.

From his childhood he has once told that his parents likes Glenn Miller, but he was into Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino. He also said somewhere that as a young guitarslinger, he had to play all sorts of things in the bands he was in, western swing, latest hit records, etc. Also he says jump blues wasmusic he really liked, but only after he started playing guitar.

JJs song and guitar style in general

To quote :
Cale's personal style has often been described as "laid back", and is characterized by shuffle rhythms, simple chord changes, understated vocals, and clever, incisive lyrics. Cale is also a very distinctive and idiosyncratic guitarist, incorporating both Travis-like fingerpicking and gentle, meandering electric solos. His recordings also reflect his stripped-down, laid-back ethos; his album versions are usually quite succinct and often recorded entirely by Cale alone, using drum machines for rhythm accompaniment.

JJ plays mostly without a pick, for smoother tone. He also appears to be using very thin strings, so he might bend with pinky etc, which makes it possible for him to evoke more emotion by slight bends and vibratos. The thin strings you can see on the Paradise studio 1979 DVD, for example. Could be that the old Harmony just was so difficult to play with anything but very thin strings. :D But also Clapton said in some interview bit that JJ does funny stuff like puts some real thin string on his guitars.

JJ's tone appears to be heavy on compression or similarly "dulling" effects. Very smooth, with plenty of sustain. Vocals are double tracked and stuff, I bet, to give a stronger vocal sound. Also he used wah-wah on some old records, but I don't really know anything about wahwahs.

His songs often are in minor keys. And some are capoed (or tuned) up a fret or two, so keys are not always common guitar keys (C, A, G, E, D). So he might play in F (Bringing it back), F# (Crazy mama) or Ebm (Cajun moon), instead of E or Em. Live it appears Christine plays same chords but higher up the neck, and JJ plays close to the open position. Also live, it might be that the keys are different, as he appears to play open chords more often, and not use a capo.

A lot of his songs are based on the minor blues, I think. So basically you have the i-IV-V of a said key, so like if chords Cm, F, G in the key of Cm. Also some songs that basically just two chords, for the whole verse of a song (Money talks, Magnolia, etc) or the whole song (don't remember which now, but I think there are some).

The solos I've tried to tab have basically been from the minor pentatonic scale of the said key. With plenty of slides and pull-ofs and hammer-ons... and some real sweet bends. Of course some of the notes in the solos, I see as coming from the played chords, not a scale, but still.

For patented licks of JJ, I haven't really progressed that far. I think I ought to find some down the line. Certainly he does play the T-Bone Walker / Chuck Berry lick where you bend the 4fth up (towards the fifth) and the play the double stop of fifth and root. Here as an example this move in the key of G:

JJ's guitars

On the gear side of things:

JJ's guitars:
- On the classic side JJ mostly played his $50 he bought in the late 60s, either miked as an acoustic or then with installed pickups (more and more pickups as years went on: Gibson humbuckers of low and high output, P90-type of pickup, Danelectro-type of a lipstick etc). This guitar was broken by airlines on an Aussie tour, IIRC. So it's been gutted, and don't know where the pickups in it went.
- he also played an ES-335 or a Japanese knock-off of a Les Paul (with a Bigsby) on those classic tunes.
- on the 1979 in Studio live DVD he plays also a 70s Stratocaster with a maple neck. One maple necked strat was also on the cover of one of his albums of that era. He also sold a 1979 strat in one of Eric Clapton's auctions. Nowadays he also sometimes plays a red strat that has a rosewood fingerboard. He did on the 2009 tour in Eugene.
- on the tours in the late 80s and nineties, after the Harmony broke, JJ played a Casio 360 MIDI guitar. I think he still prefers one of those for big venues, as he played for the Clapton shows this decade. Like he says:
"I have a Casio synthesizer guitar I bought in I guess about 1980. And that was one of the first synthesizer--Roland come out with a guitar synthesizer and you could put it on your guitar and plug it into a Midi device and make it sound just like a piano. But Casio come out with one called a 360. So I went and bought one--in fact, I bought two. And I just like the guitar.

The guitar is Japanese made. It's a Stratocaster imitation. I've been playing it all these years. If I want to add some strings, some synthesizer, instead of playing keyboard, I would just run the Midi out into a synthesizer module or a keyboard and I could do it on the guitar, which I understood a little bit more than the keyboard.

They don't make them anymore. I tried to buy more of them. And the synthesizer generally goes bad after a few years. I don't know what happens. It hasn't on this particular guitar. I took one of the pickups off and put a Gibson pickup on it, so it's been modified. I'm not as much into lead guitar as I used to be, but it's really a good lead guitar. It gets real close to sounding like either a Stratocaster or a Les Paul, I have both of those. And it's got a Floyd Rose thing on it, so it stays in tune real good. So when I go on the road, I play that thing with a band. Number one, it stays in tune, right?"

- This decade he has been playing a Korean Danelectro Covertible reissue. With a piezo added in addition to the Danelectro lipstick pickup. JJ really likes them lipsticks, and I do understand it, from my little experience with ten, they do have a sweet (compressed?) tone . Though I've heard that the reissue supposedly don't, but who knows, sound good when JJ plays!
- On the #8 album he is playing a Gibson SG on the cover. This album is the first digitally recorded album of his, and it sounds quite thin to my ears... so I thus never liked the SG. :D
- He played a bowl bodied Ovation acoustic in the ca. early 90s as well. Those things look so eighties to me. On the 2004 tour he played a Tacoma guitar (as seen on the Tulsa and Back DVD radio interview bit).
- on the cover of a 90s album he is playing a Gibson L5-CES in tuxedo black.
- On the old live VHS he plays a Carvin (AE185?) semihollow (like a '72 thinline Telecaster).
- He at least used to have a telecaster, as a Texan pickup manufacturer site says he used their Rio Grande Muy Grande telecaster pickups.
- He had a Martin made to his specs, before the Guitar man album. And said he wrote like half of the album the day he finally go it. Has "JJ Cale" inlaid on the fretboard. Also has a Taylor:
- On the Road to escondido trailer vid JJ is playing a Moonstone guitar, and in some old photos he or Christine is seen with one too. The one on the Road to... vid was a mor recent one, and look to be a semihollow design slightly similar to the Danelectro Convertible but 100 times more classy.
- Christine used to be seen with a ES-335 all the time, now she is carrying either solid body Variax or a an "acoustic" Variax model. She wasn't playing on the 2009 tour.
- Bill Raffensperger usually plays a worn out 1960s Fender Jazzbass, but on the 2004 tour he played a Tacoma acoustic bass.

So basically JJ likes a hollowbody electric for a little more acoustic tone, and humbucker or Danelectro pickups. Tribute band's leader played a 1990s Gibson Les Paul through a Rivera amp, to come somewhat close to original JJ touch and tone. So I think Gibson, maybe a semihollow like ES-335, is the way to go. Danelectro Convertible are not available anyway. :D

As for amps:
- lately he has been playing a Fender Blues Junior live. The live tone he gets is NOT the classic tone of his, I feel. But it's still great! :)
- On the live VHS he plays a Blues Deluxe. Or so he says. "Must've had a roadie on that gig", he adds. :D
- earlier he must've played the old Fender Pro he has. Don't know if it's a 50s style tweed pro or a later Pro Reverb. Completely different animals. I assume it is a tweed style amp, for more compression of the old overdriven tubes type.

more on JJ gear here:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First post here: Hard love

My first blog. My first post.

Trying to learn to play J.J. Cale on the guitar, and maybe bass too. By ear. And I am not very good at it, but hope to get better.

"Hard love" is the first song, as I found a vid on the the net (thanks to Mike of !). The video is one's live from 1993/94. He plays his white Casio stratocaster-lookalike with Floyd rose bridge. Christine plays an ES-335 (why does she nowadays play a Variax, I love the ES-335s!)

So watching it through, I think:
- he capos first fret and the key is Fm
- main chords are Fm (122111) and Eb (xx4232). The main bit just goes back and forth between these two. The chords can be played like this too: x-8-10-10-9-8 and xx4232, which makes the transition basically going up and down the fretboard and lifting 4th finger.
- the other chords are C and Bb. So to look at it theoretically: basically with Fm-Bb-C we are playing a Minor blues in F.
- Christine plays a fill bit up on around the 8th fret Fm (i.e. Am up 8 frets). I think she is going between Em and Fm chords on the B and E strings and the ending with fretted G string.
- JJ's solo is basically playing the 6th, 9th and 11th and maybe 4th fret on the B string. So that's like the root, third, fourth and flat seventh of the F minor. I may try to tab the solo later.
- So the solo is a simple minor pentatonic noodle, but more like on a single string insteaf of box. As a common pattern box, it'd be the 1st box up on 13th fret: D string 13th and 15th fret, G string 13th and 15th fret.
- Will have to check the original recording too, to hear differences between that and this live version. Christine's bit have to be clarified too.

That's it, my first! :D