Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Music – Song #110

J. J. Cale
“Homeless” —

John Weldon “J. J.” Cale was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Though he deliberately avoided the limelight his influence as a musical artist has been widely acknowledged by figures such as Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton, who described him as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock”. He is considered to be one of the originators of The Tulsa Sound, a loose mixture of blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz.

Many songs written by Cale have been recorded by other acts, including “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton and “(They) Call Me the Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. J.J. Cale’s music has been covered by many other artists including George Thorogood, The Band, Jerry Garcia, Santana, Johnny Cash and many more.

Cale’s song, “Homeless” appears on the album, To Tulsa and Back and was released in 2004. Cale strums an acoustic guitar and spins a tale of a panhandling homeless man who asks a woman for spare change. The woman replies that she has none, but the homeless man doesn’t believe her and makes a joke towards her. The woman turns her nose up and struts away muttering, “These beggars, where do they all come from?” In defense, the man tells her, “I’m not a homeless man.”

Years later, the man stumbles upon the same woman and she is homeless too. The couple spend their days together pushing carts and holding hands. When someone asks, the man tells them, “she’s not a homeless woman and I’m not a homeless man.”

J.J. Cale went on to record an album with his friend, Eric Clapton, in 2006 named The Road to Escondido Clapton and Cale won grammy’s for the album that year. Cale passed away from a heart attack in 2013 while living in La Jolla, CA.

She said she had no money
But he was in doubt
He told her, “I used to be in too”
But now he was out
“Spare some small change lady
And I’ll be on my way”

She looked into his eyes
And deep in his soul
I know that she was wonderin’
if he was in control
She muttered to herself, ” These beggars
where do they all come from?”

He said, “I’m not a homeless man
I’m a gypsy by trade
And I’m travelling this land
“I’m not a homeless man”

He moved through the streets
With his headband low
​Never thinkin’ he would ever see
That woman again, you know
Just sleepin’ in the doorways
and alleys like he always had

The years rolled by
And later on
He spotted an old woman
All tattered and worn
Hard times had got her
Her clothes were ragged and old

She said, “I’m not a homeless woman
I’m a gypsy by trade
And I’m travelling this land
“I’m not a homeless woman…”

Sometimes in the daytime
Some times at night
You will see a couple walkin’
They’ll come into sight
Pushin’ their carts
And holdin’ hands

​If you ask to help
They’ll just run away
Like little children, out to play
And if you ask, “who are you?”
They’ll always say

“I’m not a homeless man
I’m a gypsy by trade
And I’m travellin’ this land
She’s not a homeless woman
I’m not a homeless man…”

See an entire collection of songs relating to homelessness here!

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About the Author

Tim Houchen
Tim Houchen was homeless and living at the Santa Ana Civic Center between 2011 and 2015. He began advocating for the homeless community there while he was still homeless as a founding member of the infamous Civic Center Roundtable. The “grass roots” organization was composed of homeless individuals living at the civic center and Houchen was elected to serve as the groups first official spokesman in 2014. Tim is now in permanent supportive housing and lives in the City of Anaheim where he serves as a Commissioner of Housing and Community Development. Tim is also a member of the Orange County Continuum of Care and serves as Co-Chairman of the Homeless Providers Forum. He founded the nonprofit, Hope 4 Restoration, in 2017 and serves as Executive Director of the organization. Houchen created this site as a vehicle to share his knowledge, information and most of all, his experience which allows him to view the current homeless crisis in Orange County from a different and very unique perspective, a “Homeless Perspective.”

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