"Call Me The Breeze" appeared on Cale's first solo album, a 1971 release called Naturally. He got his record deal after Eric Clapton recorded "After Midnight," a song Cale wrote and recorded with his band the Leathercoated Minds in 1966. Naturally did well, placing three songs in the Hot 100 and garnering Cale offers from bigger labels (he was signed to Shelter Records). Cale kept it low-key, however, and worked at his own pace.
When Lynyrd Skynyrd covered this song, it once again financed Cale's lifestyle, allowing him to release albums in a leisurely fashion and without concern for hit potential. Clapton remained a key supporter of Cale, later recording his songs "Cocaine" and "Travellin' Light." Cale died in 2013 at age 74.
The original J.J. Cale version of this song is stripped-down, with the vocals far lower in the mix. Skynyrd decided to cover the song when guitarist Gary Rossington came up with a riff that distinguished it from the original.
This was one of the few cover songs Skynyrd recorded, and the only one on the album a band member didn't write. They recorded another J.J. Cale song, "Same Old Blues," on their 1976 album Gimme Back My Bullets, and had plans to work with Cale that were derailed by the 1977 plane crash that killed three members of the band.
Despite being one of the most popular Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, this was not released as a single. Albums were a much bigger deal in 1974, so just two singles were issued from Second Helping: "Don't Ask Me No Questions" and "Sweet Home Alabama."
Since it never got overplayed when the album was out, "Call Me The Breeze" found a spot on most classic rock playlists for many years.