JJ Cale – Fate Of A Fool. Enigmatic and reclusive music.
I’m sufficiently shallow and impressionable that JJ Cale has long been one of those untouchable musicians I wanted to like and whose music I wanted to connect with. A blues guitarist who isn’t as naff as Eric Clapton, keeping himself under the radar, emerging every few years to release low key flashes from oblivion. Being a curious type, I had a half-hearted interest to find out if still waters do run deep, and he was someone I would have liked to hear live. Then, four years ago, he died. Oh well, not to be.
Various of his albums have found their way into my collection, and I’ve listened to them without anything rubbing off, except a general sense of quiet vocals, accomplished guitar work and polished accompanying instrumentation.
This song is no different from that. Easy on the ear, plodding bassline, clear plucked lead guitar, acoustic guitar in the background, occasional electric guitar effects, and JJ singing about an indolent, pleasure-seeking life. drinking and partying. I guess it’s a different take to the boastful Guns’n’Roses/Oasis approach to the self-indulgent rock’n’roll lifestyle. A party pussycat purring as opposed to party tigers growling.
I guess it’s somewhat subversive, like I’ve heard Steely Dan described – smooth music hiding tales of sleaze. But as to whether the quiet way he had with his music held within it pearls of great wisdom or clues to a remarkable life to be uncovered, the fool’s fate described in this song doesn’t reveal many answers. If anything, there’s something of a message of a wasted life, conveyed in an accepting, if vaguely rueful tone.
Maybe, after all, all he did was write and produce good time music, simple enough to be open to any interpretation laid on it, but not needing overanalysis. Maybe that’s why his music won’t ever really suit my antsy temperament.