That Tulsa Sound

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May 232009

J.J. Cale came out with a new CD, earlier this year called Roll On. Honestly, I didn’t know too much about him. I knew that he was famous for being the composer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” which are pretty much the two songs that put Eric Clapton on the map. But that’s about it. So I read through a few reviews of his latest CD and quickly go the impression that he’s been in the business for many decades and is known as a “musician’s musician.” He never seemed to go for the spotlight too much but it turns out he’s been hugely influential in the rock music scene by create a style fo music known as “The Tulsa Sound.”

The Tulsa Sound is named after Tulsa, Oklahoma where the style originated. There were several other artists that helped shape the sound in addition to JJ Cale, including Rocky Frisco, Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop, and many others.

How to describe the Tulsa Sound? I’d say smooth but with a high crackling energy. The guitar licks sting like the blues, the bass lines walk through the music and rhythm guitars nearly dominate the musical lines.

In terms of other bands besides Eric Clapton that were influenced by The Tulsa sound, you’d have to put Dire Straits at the top of the list. “Sultans of Swing” is probably hte best known example, though I have always been partial to “Roller Girl” (“toro toro taxi!”)

Here’s some examples from YouTue:

Eric Clapton and JJ Cale, “After Midnight”

Eric Clapton - Crossroads - After Midnight

“Going Down” performed by Leon Russell and JJ Cale.

“Pursuit of Happiness” performed by Rocky Frisco and JJ Cale

“Travelin Shoes” performed by Elvin Bishop

Elvin Bishop - Let It Flow - Travelin' Shoes

“Sultans of Swing” performed by Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits

Dire Straits - Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing

“Call Me The Breeze” by Lynard Skynard

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Lynyrd Skynyrd: All Time Greatest Hits - Call Me the Breeze