Miscellaneous Rumbles

Cocaine left me flat..

26

Clapton would agree with you, Jimmy. His humility about his own talents is beyond honorable and endearing - it’s practically crippling. As far back as the late 70s, I recall a print interview where he expressed how little he enjoyed hearing himself. That he’d listen to himself and hear some Freddie King, then some Albert King, then some other blues master in his playing.

He said he liked those parts; it was all the stuff between that sounded like him that he didn’t like.

Whoever scrawled “Clapton is God” on subway walls, it sure wasn’t EC himself.


Of course our reactions to artists is always conditioned by who and where we were in our lives when we first heard their music. I was 13 when “Sunshine” and then Disraeli Gears hit me, and to say it made a deep impression is understatement. “White Room” and all of Wheels, even more so. I simply had never heard anything like it before.

I had no idea it had evolved from a literal collision of blues, jazz, psychedelia - and the fertile and eclectic imagination of Jack Bruce. Much as I respect (and kinda sympathize) with Clapton’s aching toward blues purity, it’s Cream’s ferocious pastiche that creams me.

27

Go watch Life in 12 Bars or I won't listen to this anymore. It's a documentary about Eric Clapton. Did you know he found out as a kid that his mum was actually his grandma and his 'sister' was his real mother? There's a lot of reasons why he wanted to tear the face off the world with the electric guitar.

28

I grew up in a household that proudly promoted music from the 60's. My parents were always spinning 60's records and I grew attached to all of it.

I graduated from high school in the 90's and I can say that Eric Clapton was seldom on the minds of any of my non-musician peer group members. Until... the Unplugged album.

I will always give Clapton serious credit for making so many people of my generation notice that music. I didn't need that introduction (thanks to my parents), but it was awesome to watch kids my age start getting off on that acoustic record.

29

Clapton never did a novelty song.

I always wanted to hear his version of Benny Bell's "Shaving Cream".

30

Wasn't he also famous for his creamy woman tone and brown tone? Just sayin'.

31

Funny thing, I have the “Layla...” album in my CD player in my car right now. There’s lot of great guitar on there besides the title track, for example his lead playing on “Have You Ever Loved a Woman”.

As for “Cocaine” - yeah, pretty boring, BUT you can use the backing riff to practice your own lead playing!

32

Clapton never did a novelty song.

I always wanted to hear his version of Benny Bell's "Shaving Cream".

– crowbone

I always wanted to hear his version of Benny Hill’s Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West.

33

Clapton never did a novelty song.

Well...Disraeli Gears’s ”Take It Back” probably qualifies, and “Mothers Lament” surely does. Given the lugubrious vocal and lethargically down tempo, maybe “Blue Condition.”

Then there’s “Anyone for Tennis” and “Pressed Rat and Warthog.”

I sense Jack Bruce all over these choices, but hey. Clapton played along.

34

The Life in 12 Bars bio doc is fabulous and very moving. The guy has been through a lot, putting it mildly. The fact that he is still around, can still play at an incredibly high level, should be treasured and appreciated whatever your opinion of his work. Peter Green, who I preferred over Clapton, has not fared as well. Green is still fortunately around and records and performs (which is a miracle unto itself) but is really a shell of what he was prior to his bad bout with hallucinogenics and years of mental illness.

35

The Life in 12 Bars bio doc is fabulous and very moving. The guy has been through a lot, putting it mildly. The fact that he is still around, can still play at an incredibly high level, should be treasured and appreciated whatever your opinion of his work. Peter Green, who I preferred over Clapton, has not fared as well. Green is still fortunately around and records and performs (which is a miracle unto itself) but is really a shell of what he was prior to his bad bout with hallucinogenics and years of mental illness.

– Gretschadelphia

Thanks for a reaction at last from someone who's actually seen this film and learnt about this incredible life story, including the good and bad. All other smart Alec experts should go watch before shooting him down or blowing smoke up his ass

36

Great thread. Outside of Elvis,one of my first LPs was Wheels of Fire, which came out a few years after I began playing Guitar, and definitely pushed me . In retrospect, Clapton was a big influence on the soundtrack of my life. Lets not forget his contributions to the Beatles White Album , part of my high school experience, very formative years. For the times, and for awhile, he fit quite nicely and led me to some of the Masters that influenced him. I can attest that, in the mid to late 70's in the Bars, "Cocaine" fit in perfectly as background. "Life in 12 Bars" was great, but Clapton wasn't the only person to have a rough go of things. While not a rabid Fan, I think He has helped lots of people and is a good example. . He wears the "Gentleman" mantel well.

37

In the '70's we thought he had lost "it", Lay Down Sally being the nadir. Then we saw him live in '84 and were blown away.

38

Proteus makes a cogent point that I think applies to many virtuoso musicians --- not just Clapton --- when he says "But always it's his collaborators who determine where he goes musically."

There are many musicians who posess amazing chops, but just hearing them play with more-or-less faceless backing musicians rarely spurs them to the heights of invention of which they are capable. Robben Ford is another example --- he's a brilliant and unique player, but I seem to turn to his work with Yellowjackets, or as a guest soloist with someone else when I want to hear him at his best. Being part of a group with equally talented players with different ideas creates a dynamic that seems to bring out the best in all of them, as opposed to having a "star" who gets all the focus, while the other bandmembers play mostly a supporting role.

Evidently part of Clapton's move away from the adventurousness of Cream was his being uncomfortable with the whole "Clapton is God" thing, and his desire to be "just part of a band" --- hence his association with Delaney and Bonnie. I think he was sincerely following his muse at the time, and you can't fault a guy for that. There seemed to be a general trend around that time for a number of adventurous, exploratory groups and artists to dial back the experimentation and move toward a more laid-back, rootsy, acoustic kind of thing. Like f'rinstance the Grateful Dead's movement from "Dark Star" to "Workingman's Dead." (I blame The Band, whose "Music From Big Pink" seemed to catalyze the movement for a lot of musicians). It was also the same time as the rise of the "singer-songwriter" phenomenon, so perhaps there was something in the cultural zeitgeist circa 1970 that needed to catch its breath after the explosion of creativity in the late 60's.

One of the things that helped kill fusion as a genre was that there were so many great players who got their own record contracts or started their own bands, but not all of them had the consistency of compositional ideas to sustain a musical unit over time. The lasting contributors --- Miles Davis, Weather Report, Return to Forever, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the Tony Williams Lifetime with Allan Holdsworth, and a few others --- all had that element of interplay among musicians who challenged each other and inspired each other to go beyond their comfort zones and find new sounds and directions, which made it easy for audiences who could keep up to join them for the ride.

I totally understand that musicians may burn out from a particular phase of their musical evolution (or from certain other collaborators), and that their preferred mode of expression may no longer be what their fans want or expect from them. So it goes. As listeners, we can listen to the things that move us most, regardless of who made them --- or when.

I found the Cream reunion enjoyable, but to a large extent it just called attention to how great their original body of work was. They weren't really bringing in new material or creating new things together, just bringing their current sensibilities to the music they had created a few decades earlier. I still listen to Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire way more, because, well, THAT was the shizznit!

39

Funny. Trying to find what I missed. Went to Googleplay to stream Clapton this morning, and the #1 top song is........Cocaine.

The guy has history, integrity and staying power. As a solo act he just never exited me.

FWIW I can’t stand eggplant either.

40

Clapton became more interesting again mid-80's, and I remember how heavily he toured when he reached the VH1 stage of videos.

I like "Forever Man" and "After Midnight" (version from Beer ad...slow and raw, not the 70's Tulsa Pop sound). I think Blackie is the Tone on both those tracks.

How can one not like Eggplant?

41

Clapton never did a novelty song.

Well...Disraeli Gears’s ”Take It Back” probably qualifies, and “Mothers Lament” surely does. Given the lugubrious vocal and lethargically down tempo, maybe “Blue Condition.”

Then there’s “Anyone for Tennis” and “Pressed Rat and Warthog.”

I sense Jack Bruce all over these choices, but hey. Clapton played along.

– Proteus

But just imagine his "Cocaine" treatment to:

"An old lady died in the bathtub. She died from a terrible fit. In order to fulfill her wishes, she was buried in 6ft of Shaving cream..."

42

FWIW I have read quite a lot of Clapton's history. It has made me sympathise with him as a person tremendously. Doesn't make me appreciate his music any differently.

As a side note - it's interesting how many people who are famous or have become extraordinary musicians/singers/boxers have come from a bad place. It seems some adversity in early life can drive the right person onto greater things. In the case of Billie Holiday you can really hear the hard life in her voice. Elvis, BB King, even Lennon ad McCartney - all overcame tragedy and/or poverty to make great music.

43

i found cocaine boring, overrated, excessively expensive, and too short-acting. who wants to do another $100 every 20 minutes? other than everybody dear to me in the 1980s.

44

I appreciated Clapton bringing notice to JJ Cale, but whoever wrote Clapton is God was obviously dyslectic.

45

I think he did a good job with "Journeymen" and some of the stuff on "Pilgrim" was good, too, as far as his later stuff goes. Yeah, not a fan of Cocaine either.

46

Man! I'm not sure I've ever seen so much Clapton hate in a single place. Is it because he rarely played a Gretsch?!

I agree that "Cocaine" isn't his finest work, but he's still a stellar player and songwriter.

Also, did someone really criticize Duane Allman's slide work at the end of "Layla?" Rag on Eric all you want, but there's no need to drag Duane into it.

47

It is strange how everyone has a strong opinion about the guy. I like the early stuff, some Cream and Layla of course. The acoustic stuff makes me want to go to sleep

48

Too me it’s his elevation to guitar god status? I agree it wasn’t his idea to call himself a guitar god, but I just don't “feel” it. His playing, more often than not leaves, me cold. And as far as the blues goes, I feel he is not even in the top 10 of blues players. It’s the hype, it’s the idea that “cocaine”is some kind of iconic song? I’ve felt this way for a very long time. I’m sure he is a great guy, and a much better player than myself. It’s not a personal attack on him, it’s more of a curious observation on what people find amazing, powerful, moving. Hendrix, SRV...... these were blues gods! Too me it’s the raw feelings they conjured up with their playing that evokes the status of a great blues player. If it’s just a good guitar part, riff, solo, it doesn’t elevate to great blues. I don’t even consider Clapton a “blues” player. And again not to bash him, we all sound like who we are, and god bless him for sharing his gift. It’s just not great blues.

I suspect “cocaine” became an anthem for “dudes” and “dudets” not because of its great musical qualities or its moving vocals or it’s soul stirring emotional wave. I suspect it became a “thing” because it is about a white fluffy drug.

49

He didn’t write “Cocaine.”

While not every Clapton- penned song is a gem for the ages, I don’t think he’s ever written as mediocre a song as “Cocaine.” I agree that he’s a good songwriter - and occasionally great. It’s just that, stylistically, his output has been 45 years of Dave Masony middle-of-the-road mainstream blues-inflected pop rock.

Which is a fine thing, and I’ve bought and enjoyed virtually all of it. (Though for great writing in the same neighborhood, I’ve enjoyed Mark Knopfler more.)

Anyway, clearly much of the buying public has embraced him over the years, including many who came to know him from his solo-career work, and not his white-hot first chapter - when, for a cluster of reasons, he was essential in a really extraordinary body of work which is more compelling to me.

I can’t fault a guy for changing either to suit the times, or to chase his own muse. Maybe he didn’t prize the musical results of the supercharged invention and challenging, symbiotic collaborations of his early career, or he simply burned out on it, or it wasn’t worth the additional stress it entailed. Whatever the reason, the rest of his career has been more “comfortable” musically, and less man-I-never-heard-anything-like-that-before. (And, blues tradionalist at heart, he may never have intended to be as musically new as Bruce and Baker pushed him to be in the first place.)

I don’t even mean to diminish the value of his long later career. Had I met him on his first solo album, he might have become one of my core influences anyway. It’s just that I can’t help missing the fiery Eric of the Cream/Blind Faith/Layla era. The contrast is so stark, it’s hard to reconcile that it’s the same guy - almost like he repudiated or cut off much of what originally burned him into my consciousness. I have nothing against easy listening...it’s just that it doesn’t make much of an impact on me.

Because of when I came of age musically, the music I had access to or could find, and my early guitar experiences, the guitar gods who stood highest in my personal pantheon were Clapton, Hendrix, and Blackmore. (Beck, Page, and Green came a couple years later, then Fripp and Howe.)

Of those, Hendrix died before he could have a second chapter, so he remains undimmed as a white-hot super-nova of The New.

Blackmore stuck to his hard-rockin’ melodically inventive guns till he opened a second chapter (with Candice Night) of mostly-acoustic renfest music as uncommercial and as far from radio pop or any form of metal as he could get - and his old fire and invention are often on display (if in a new context).

Page apparently said all he had to say with Zeppelin, then mostly rested, evidently not needing an active career.

Howe remained Howe forever - building on, consolidating, and refining what he did in early Yes, changing little, and not much extending that legacy.

That leaves Fripp and Beck, both of whom ignored the commercial mainstream, both of whom radically changed their aesthetic several times, both of whom have continued to evolve and innovate. When I hear new material from either of them, I don’t know what I’m going to hear. I know I’ll hear their respective variety of tones, but I have little idea where they’re going to take them. They’ve remained vibrant creative innovators - taking the progressive spirit of 1966-1975 to new places, without looking back in nostalgia.

And I guess I like that.

Alone among my early guitar heros, Clapton is the one who abdicated in order to resolutely move to the center. It’s who he is. I respect that. (That he turned out to be less of a tradional blues revivalist than he claimed to want to be is a curious footnote. For my money, Peter Green did that better - and his 2-album Robert Johnson songbook digs closer to the roots than Clapton’s, though both men’s are essential to me.)

Anyway. I just miss the explorer Clapton seemed when I first heard him.

50

It came on the radio and reminded me why I’m not a Clapton fan. Such a boring rock song with what has to be the most lack luster vocal of all time. I just don’t get the hype?

– Hipbone

That's a funny coincidence.... last week I also heard Clapton's version of Cocaine on the radio (probably not even the same channel, LOL), and I was asking myself why the hell didn't they play JJ Cale's version instead? It's soooo much better - although still kinda boring...

Oh well, I've always preferred Peter Green over Clapton when it comes to British blues players.

Anders


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