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James Robert Webb Talks Don Williams and Eric Clapton Classic 'Tulsa Time' in Exclusive Video

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Tulsa, Oklahoma native James Robert Webb reinvented one of his hometown's most beloved songs, "Tulsa Time," for his self-titled album, out March 27.

While a tribute to Don Williams would've had potential, Webb added his own stamp to "Tulsa Time" by also honoring his home state's Western swing lineage. In the process, he made something fresh with two familiar influences.

"Being from Tulsa with Bob Wills and everybody, it's just happy music," Webb says in the video below. "So, we wanted to find a song we could do a little bit different and unexpected. I think if you look at 'Tulsa Time,' every bar band plays this song. Everyone knows this song... Don Williams made it famous, but we play it a completely different way. I'm really excited for people to hear this, because it's just a good ol' Western swing version."

 

Williams' guitarist Danny Flowers wrote what became a song with crossover appeal in just 30 minutes while on tour.

"We were staying in the Tulsa Sheraton, I think, when a blizzard came up," Flowers told Tulsa World in 2000. "We were all snowed in, and there was absolutely nothing to do. I was sitting there in my room, watching 'The Rockford Files,' with some hotel stationery beside me, just bored, and I started writing out some verses."

Flowers' song impressed both his boss and an unlikely tour mate in Eric Clapton, who was known for adding his own blues-rock spin to the work of Oklahoma native JJ Cale and other roots-minded songwriters. "Tulsa Time" appeared on Williams' Aug. 1978 album Expressions and, just three months later, Clapton's Backless album. Two years later, the song kicked off Clapton's 1980 live album Just One Night.

At the time, Clapton played with three musicians from Tulsa: drummer Jamie Oldaker, bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist Dick Sims.

"I can tell you, playing that song from Madison Square Garden to the Forum in L.A., people always sang along," Oldaker told Tulsa World. "I think a lot of people can identify and can think about it and come up with their own definition of what 'Tulsa Time' means to them."

Read More: Brothers Osborne Pay Tribute to Don Williams With 'Tulsa Time' at CMA Awards

Williams' version topped the Billboard country charts and inspired covers by Reba McEntire and Jason Boland & The Stragglers plus live country rock jams by Clapton featuring the likes of Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow.

To hear Webb's version and the rest of his self-titled album, check him out on Spotify and the usual outlets, or grab a CD copy from his website.

"Tulsa Time" Lyrics

I left Oklahoma drivin' in a Pontiac
Just about to lose my mind
I was goin' on to Arizona, maybe on to California
Where all the people live so fine
My baby said I was crazy, my momma called me lazy
I was goin' to show 'em all this time
'Cause you know I ain't no fool and I don't need no more schoolin'
I was born to just walk the line

Livin' on Tulsa time
Livin' on Tulsa time
Well, you know I've been through it
When I set my watch back to it
Livin' on Tulsa time

Well, there I was in Hollywood wishin' I was doin' good
Talkin' on the telephone line
But they don't need me in the movies and nobody sings my songs
Guess I'm just wastin' time
Well, then I got to thinkin', man I'm really sinkin'
And I really had a flash this time
I had no business leavin' and nobody would be grievin'
If I went on back to Tulsa time

Livin' on Tulsa time
Livin' on Tulsa time
Gonna set my watch back to it
'Cause you know I've been through it
Livin' on Tulsa time

Livin' on Tulsa time
Livin' on Tulsa time
Gonna set my watch back to it
'Cause you know I've been through it
Livin' on Tulsa time

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James Robert Webb Talks Don Williams and Eric Clapton Classic 'Tulsa Time' in Exclusive Video