Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who's Gonna' Fill Their Shoes?

It seems like we are losing a generation of musicians too soon.

J J Cale, who passed away on Friday, is the latest. If you don’t know the musician, you probably know the music. He wrote “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” recorded by Eric Clapton. The Oklahoma native gave us the ‘Tulsa sound.’

Taylor Hicks tweeted on Saturday:

“RIP JJ Cale He was the quintessential #americana #roots-musician”

Cale’s “They Call Me The Breeze” made a hit by Lynyrd Skynyrd, has long been covered by Taylor.

We also lost country music pioneer and legend, George Jones, earlier this year. The musical competition, The Voice, was in its live competition shows. A duo from Oklahoma,  the Swan Brothers, paid tribute to Jones singing one of his songs posing the stirring question, “Who’s Gonna’ Fill Their Shoes?”

It was also a challenge for those new artists competing. It started a personal dialogue for me. I wondered beyond country music and asked myself who’s going to fill the shoes of artists like The Beatles, Elvis, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and now, musician/songwriters…

like J J Cale.

Will our plentiful singing competitions and hit producers of today give us singers and music that will take the place of those who molded our musical roots and genres—the unforgettable music that still plays today and will for a long time after we say goodbye to these great musicians?

What makes music and artists unforgettable? It is music and artists that we never tire of hearing, music that is never eclipsed by something on the Top 40—here today, forgotten tomorrow.

It’s music and performances that connect with people. That is the elusive link that the best musicians create—a strong connection and music so good that no other artist is associated with it.

I attended a small graduation this spring. At the socializing afterwards, a small band—just five guys who got together to play music—entertained with “House of the Rising Sun,” “Margarettaville” and then “Let It Be”—all songs that have stood the test of time. I was singing along and lost in the moment. Seldom are covers better than the original. I can’t even recall a cover of “Let It Be.”

That is the unforgettable—the purist example of the best.

And those shoes will be difficult to fill.

What new song today will be here after we are gone? What new artist will be remembered as a “quintessential” of music when they die?

And,  just as importantly, what artists today will carry on the legacy of this great generation of musicians? 

Truly, only time will tell.  Singer/songwriters who live for their music and connect with their audiences will have the lasting impact on the next generation of music.

There will be some who fill those shoes. That is the bright side of this.

Taylor Hicks covers “They Call Me the Breeze:”

Eric Clapton, J. J. Cale “After Midnight” and “They Call Me the Breeze:”

For more about J J Cale, visit:
Note: “Quintessential” is from the Latin meaning “fifth essence,” the purist example; in Medieval philosophy it suggested that after Earth, air, fire, and water, this was the Fifth Element.

I wondered, “After Earth, air, fire, and water, might MUSIC be the Fifth Element?”

Just a thought…


Anonymous said...

Excellent. parleybluehenry

san said...

Thank you, parleybluehenry. Thanks for reading and commenting. We appreciate it.