J.J. Cale was a struggling songwriter until 1970 when Eric Clapton recorded his tune After Midnight. Shortly Clapton released After Midnight, J.J. Cale's album Naturally was recorded and it included his biggest hit, Crazy Mama. J.J.'s style is very relaxed and laid back, making it very calming to listen to. His songs are also very fun to play, and generally pretty easy. These lessons cover the progressions, but also many go into thoughts and techniques for improvising solos or fills with them.
Lesson 1: Crazy Mama - J.J. Cale - Guitar Lesson
J.J. Cale was a struggling songwriter until 1970 when Eric Clapton recorded his tune After Midnight. Shortly after that Cale’s album Naturally was released which included his biggest hit, Crazy Mama. His style is very relaxed and laid back.
Crazy Mama is a simple blues progression with a slightly syncopated instrumental break. This short lesson looks at the riff and keeping the changes smooth. There is no tab or chart but you might even get it just from the Play Through in Part 2.
Lesson 2: Call Me The Breeze - JJ Cale - Guitar Lesson
Call Me The Breeze is a J.J. Cale song that became a huge song for Lynyrd Skynyrd on their second album.
It is a classic 12-bar blues form with Cale’s infectious groove. The lesson goes over the riff, a basic shuffle or boogie-type pattern, some opening three-string voicings played over it, and touches a bit on using pentatonic scales to add fills and licks.
Lesson 3: Sensitive Kind - JJ Cale - Guitar Lesson
Sensitive Kind is another early, and great J.J. Cale song, also first brought to my attention by my friend Rich Olson. It has been covered by many artists, even Santana, and appears on the new tribute album by Eric Clapton & Friends.
The song has a very simple progression so the focus of the lesson is more on lead ideas. There is a segment where I play along with a backing track, then another where I am the backing track for you to play along with.
Lesson 4: After Midnight - JJ Cale - Guitar Lesson
After Midnight was the song that kick-started J.J. Cale’s career, thanks to Eric Clapton becoming a fan and recording it in 1970.
This led to Cale being able to release his debut album Naturally. J.J.’s version is definitively more laid back, like most of his tunes but we have Clapton to thank for opening the door to many years of great songs.
This lesson presents the chord progression in the five guitar-friendly keys, but starts with a Listen segment for improving ear-training. There are also thought on playing a second guitar part with a few lead tips too.
Lesson 5: Hold On - JJ Cale - Guitar Lesson
In the early 1980s I was playing quite a bit with my friend Rich Olson. He introduced me to a few J.J. Cale songs that really grabbed me and stuck with me.
Hold On is from Cale’s 1976 album Troubador and features his cool, laid back sound, although a touch jazzier than many of his other songs.
This lesson covers the progression and syncopated changes, and includes some thoughts on playing lead over the changes. There is also a backing track segment for you to practice soloing over.