Behind the Song Lyrics: “Call Me the Breeze,” Lynyrd Skynyrd

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
Well now, they call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
I ain’t got me nobody
I don’t carry me no load
Ain’t no change in the weather
Ain’t no changes in me

Originally written by guitarist, singer, and songwriter J.J. Cale for this 1971 debut Naturally, “Call Me the Breeze” follows the story of a man leaving behind the burdens of the world and going wherever the wind blew him.

Landing a record deal after Eric Clapton recorded his song “After Midnight”—Clapton would record more of Cale’s songs throughout his career, including “Travellin’ Light” and “Cocaine”—Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze” mirrored his own life as an artist who stayed mostly under the radar as a performer, never appearing (in photos or art) on his first seven albums. 

The simplicity of the song, of letting life take one where it may, soon caught the ears of Lynyrd Skynyrd and eventually made its way on to the band’s second album Second Helping in 1974.

Instead of following Cale’s more stripped-back lead on the track, Skynyrd amped the song up with a more rockabilly style.

Marking one of the few covers Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded, the band later pulled another track from Cale, “Same Old Blues” for their 1976 album Gimme Back My Bullets. The band had plans to work with Cale again before the 1977 plane crash, which killed Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines.

Though never released as a single by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Call Me the Breeze” is one of the band’s more popular tracks, alongside another Second Helping hit “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Throughout the years, “Call Me the Breeze” has been covered by Johnny Cash with his son John Carter Cash, Shooter Jennings, Bobby Bare, Peter Frampton, John Mayer, and more.

In 2004, Cale joined his longtime collaborator Clapton during his Crossroads Guitar Festival where the two performed “Call Me the Breeze.” Throughout the years, Cale and Clapton continued to work with one another, even picking up a Grammy Award for their album The Road to Escondido in 2008.

When Cale died in 2013 from a heart attack, Clapton paid tribute to his friend by including a rendition of “Call Me the Breeze” and other tracks for a Cale tribute album in 2014, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, which also features Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, and John Mayer. An official video for the song, directed by Joseph Toman and released in 2014, features older videos and photographs of Clapton and Cale.

Of Skynyrd’s rendition of “Call Me the Breeze,” Cale said that it afforded him the money to have more freedom in how and when he made his music and was always honored when other artists covered his songs.

“I suppose the biggest compliment a songwriter can receive is when somebody else sings your songs,” said Cale. “I’m more proud of the long list of people who have done my songs than, say, the money or the records I’ve made. When someone cuts your song—whether it’s good or bad—you feel great.”

Well, there ain’t no change in the weather
Ain’t no changes in me
And I ain’t hidin’ from nobody
Nobody’s hidin’ from me
Oh, that’s the way it’s supposed to be
Well, I got that green light, baby
I got to keep movin’ on

Photo: Doltyn Snedden

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