'To Tulsa and Back' with J.J. Cale

Roots Rock Artist Heads Home for a New Collection of Songs

Since the mid-1960s, songwriter J.J. Cale's work has attracted the attention of some of rock's most successful artists. Many of Cale's songs would later become hits for rockers like Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.

'To Tulsa and Back'

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But Cale's influence extends well beyond the charts. His laid back, unpretentious style and shuffling rhythms set the stage for "roots rock" explorations by countless other artists and groups over the last four decades.

NPR's Liane Hansen talks to Cale about his career and his first collection of new songs in eight years, To Tulsa and Back.

The album sent Cale from from his home in southern California to his Oklahoma hometown. He asked an old friend who runs a recording studio in Tulsa to "call all the guys that are still alive... and I'll make another record."

The result is 13 varieties of vintage Cale material, including "Stone River," an understated protest song about the water crisis in the West. Cale wouldn't be surprised to see a few tracks from the disc climb the charts — for another artist. "They're all out there for anybody to record," he says. "That's why I write them."

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