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J.J. Cale: A Veteran Songwriter's 'Old Man' Music

J.J. Cale.
Courtesy of the artist
J.J. Cale.

J.J. Cale released his debut album, Naturally, in 1971. Born and raised in Oklahoma, the singer wrote songs that became big hits for Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others, including "Cocaine" and "After Midnight."

"He recorded ["After Midnight"], and [it came] out about six months later," Cale says. "And I heard it on the radio, and I went, 'Oh, boy, I'm a songwriter now. I'm not an engineer or an elevator operator.' "

Those royalty checks keep coming in, so Cale doesn't have to tour or record much. But he has a new album out now, titled Roll On.

"I was a late bloomer in the music business," Cale says. "When I made [Naturally], I went, 'I'm way too old to be doing this. You know, 30 years old is really old.' So ironically, I'm doing it now — this last album, I'm 70."

Cale spoke with host Melissa Block about writing original music at 70.

"I write songs that kind of pertain to where I'm at now, and I guess it's good," Cale says. "I don't know, you know? I used to write more about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. I don't do that quite as much as I used to, and it's a little bit more 'old man' philosophy."

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