I have often been told I’m not playing a certain song the way it was originally done. To which I reply: Good.
I have laughed at such criticism and said I’m not good enough to imitate the original. And there is a lot of truth in that. It is also true that I know most artists prefer their works be interpreted rather than mimicked. I also know I have never tried to imitate anyone.
Melissa has said that I am a natural to a fault. If I think about that too much, I might not like it, but it sounds right on first take.
Last month’s passing of JJ Cale brought forth loads of accolades and remembrances.
(If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Cale, now would be a good time. It will likely amaze you to know which songs he wrote that others made famous.) This quote from Performing Songwriters interview with Mr. Cale explains exactly why I’m okay with covering songs my way. (Emphasis mine)
I could never get the playing of whoever I was listening to exactly right. I would miss a few notes here and there or get a chord wrong. Through that, my playing ended up sounding a bit different from the person I was imitating. As the years went by, I deliberately kept letting that happen. That’s where a person’s style comes from.
Since Mr. Cale’s death, I have added his “Call Me the Breeze” to my set list. I hope he appreciates my version.
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