Song of the Day: Terry Callier “Can’t Catch The Trane”
Terry Callier was one of those remarkable musicians who seemed to be good at everything that he tried. He was a great, genre-bending songwriter, a great singer and a great instrumentalist with his expansive guitar palette melding perfectly with his voice. The string of three records he released for Cadet records between 1972 and 1973, beginning with The Color of Love and concluding with I Just Can’t Help Myself represented an innovative new approach to soul music that sounded like nothing else. Combining elements of folk, blues, jazz and more, Callier was a trailblazer who was able to bring together seemingly disparate but related threads of popular music of his time and weave them into whole cloth.
“Can’t Catch The Trane” is a jazzier number appearing on 1973’s I Just Can’t Help Myself. The song features jazzy guitar voicing, scat singing from Callier and some phenomenal bass work by (most likely) session ace Richard Evans (who also did the arrangements for the record). The song manages to approximate the exact feel of a train picking up speed and disappearing over the edge of the horizon.
Terry Callier was born in 1945 in Chicago. He was raised in the infamous (and now demolished) Cabrini–Green project and was a childhood friend of other future soul stars, Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance and Jerry Butler. As a teenager he sand in doo-wop groups. He eventually landed a recording contract with Prestige, but only released on record, the folk-inflected The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, which sold poorly. He continued to perform in Chicago, and in 1970 joined the Chicago Songwriters Workshop set up by Jerry Butler which helped to to land his recording deal with Cadet.
Callier remained a highly active and well-respected cult musical figure throughout his career that stretched until his tragic death from cancer in 2012. This included a 2009 collaboration with trip-hop pioneers, Massive Attack. He was also a staunch social issue activist, campaigning around poverty issues, world peace and AIDS awareness. He received an award from the UN for his work around promoting world peace through his music and activism. Terry Callier was a treasure and we are all enriched by the wonderful music that he left behind.