Making this album, is also an occasion for me to study about the music I’m making, and find out more about musicians. While researching JJ Cale (I’ve been forever a fan of the man, and I am covering one of his tunes), I discovered a secondary, yet to me quite interesting, fact about his relationship with Eric Clapton (whom I respect, but whose music I don’t really follow).
Clapton put Cale on the maps, when he covered After Midnight on his first solo album, in 1970. He went on to cover more Cale tunes including, in 1977, what is perhaps Clapton’s biggest hit, Cocaine. They obviously knew each other since a long time, when in 2006 Clapton asked Cale to make an album together (The Road To Escondido): “I have been trying to sound like JJ, but never succeeded; now I can see how he does it.” On YouTube there is a 12 minutes mini-documentary produced for the release of this album; it features interviews, studio bits – the usual. But there is this illuminating passage:
Cale: “I had After Midnight, and I’d go to radio stations to get it played: zero. When Eric cut that, it went on the radio and I went wow, because the station it was playing it was a Pop, top 40 station, and I knew that if they were playing it in Tulsa, they were playing it everywhere, and I had a hit. So I went looking for a new car.”
Cut to Eric Clapton, who – in a separate interview, is asked to comment on this: ” [Laughs], I’m so proud. I don’t know whether he approves of what I’ve done, y’know, it doesn’t… I mean, it would be great if he did…”
It follows that, in all these years, with all the money that Clapton made for Cale and viceversa, he never told him anything about his covers. Ever. And Clapton never dared to ask. Wow: I wish I was that cool.