Saturday, November 05, 2016

Before You Vote...

"Lies" / J. J. Cale

On Tuesday we'll be forced to choose a new President. For months we've had to endure a flood of other lies of all stripes:  Plagiarisms, misquotes, false statistics, unproven allegations, paranoid fantasies, and plumb ignorance of the most hateful kind, from both sides of the political spectrum. I'm tired of it all. And so here is my eve of election soundtrack.

Now let's jump forward to 1972 -- an election year, I might add. Nixon vs. McGovern, no less, which seemed the ultimate stark choice at the time. (This year, I'll contend, is even starker.)

J. J. Cale was basically living in obscurity in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Eric Clapton recorded a cover of his 1966 song "After Midnight." (Clapton would score another hit with Cale's "Cocaine" in 1977.) On the basis of this, Cale got a record deal and released the album Naturally in 1972. Meanwhile, he hit #22 on the charts in April 1972 with his bluesy single "Crazy Mama."  Things were finally looking up for J. J. Cale.

He went down to Muscle Shoals and recorded a new album, Really (released in 1973), just as "Crazy Mama" was hitting its peak. And track 1 was this deliciously swampy new song, "Lies," which the newly in-demand Cale released as a single later that year.

On the surface, it's a classic girl-done-me-wrong song -- "You left me hanging / Hanging on a limb / You said you loved me / And then you left with him." That rootsy lazy tempo, the snaking guitar line -- it's a timeless sorta song. Sure, he's pissed off, in his cantakerous way, but he's gotta get a few more beers in him (or a few more tokes on the front porch) before he does anything about it.

Still, knowing what was brewing in the country at the time -- the Watergate break-in in June was just the last straw in the miasma of mistrust hanging over that election -- I couldn't hear verse 3 without thinking of politicians and their dirty tricks: "Tell me baby / Why you take my time / You get a thrill off / Playing with my mind / Lord you did it to me / I see it in your eyes / Lies lies lies."

Well, we all know how 1972 turned out.

A word to the wise....

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