Top Ten Songs by Eric Clapton

Layla

The opening riff simply tears through your senses. Layla was definitely Eric at his best. His short stint with Derek and the Dominos generated only one album, but it is arguably one of the most dazzling, shining works in his catalog. This song says it with such force and conveys painfully powerful emotions-a rather fitting cry of frustration from his famously unrequited love affair with his best friend George Harrison’s then-wife Patti Boyd, for whom he wrote the song. Yet even in the stripped-down, mellowed version that he put out in 1994’s Unplugged, Eric breathes new life into the song and rekindles old passions that have long been put to rest.

Bellbottom Blues

This is another classic from Eric’s period with the Dominos. It’s a mellow track, yet the intensity of feeling that he conveys here clearly rivals that of Layla, or of any great blues player for the matter. He sings of an unrequited love, and a searing sadness fathoms the track, climaxing with some soaring string bending and guitar wailing. That simple, haunting riff just rings in your ears and finds its way to your heart. Blues purists may resent the rock-tinged feel of the song, but no doubt Eric is one fine bluesman who can convey oceans of emotion. This song alone is enough to attest to that.

Crossroads

This was the track that merited him the famous graffiti that said “Clapton is God”. His years at Cream were some of his best which, combined with the genius of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, saw unprecedented experimentation with jazz progressions as no rock trio had ever attempted. Crossroads is a completely new take on the Robert Johnson blues standard, complete with those guitar pyrotechnics and extended improvisations that propelled Clapton to god-like cult-worship status in London’s 1960s music scene.

Badge

Another selection from his years with Cream, Badge was co-written with George Harrison. The two had met some years earlier and from there grew one of the greatest friendships in contemporary music history, even withstanding Clapton’s aching affair with Harrison’s first wife Patti Boyd. Although more of a pop track than Eric’s blues-purist preferences, Badge has become a standard in Eric’s concert repertoires, perhaps as a fond tribute to George. Every performance of this song sees Eric bringing something different into it, and his solos have only grown more expressive with age, like something nearing perfection after 40 years in the making.

Have You Ever Loved A Woman

This is one of Eric’s signature songs, way back from his Derek and the Dominos period. A Chicago-blues style tune infused with some excellent and heavy improvisations, Have You Ever Loved A Woman is legendary Clapton material. Here, he conveys painful and lucid oceans of emotion, again in reference to his unrequited love affair with Patti, pining the realization that “âÂ?¦she belongs to your very best friend.” Whoever says that Clapton doesn’t have the soul of a bluesman should have a listen to this track, and that would settle the argument once and for all.

Old Love

Written with renowned bluesman and his good friend Robert Cray, Old Love is a powerfully moving ballad that staged Eric’s comeback as a bluesman in the late eighties. Shedding the experimental-mostly pop-material which he fumbled and languished in for the most part of the 70’s and 80’s, the arrival of this song shatters any doubts about him having outlived his glory days and reminds us mere mortals, who might already have forgotten, why Clapton is, indeed, god.

Cocaine

This J.J. Cale classic has been immortalized, thanks to Clapton’s ingenious guitar playing. Who could ever mistake that opening phrase for something less worthy? It’s not nearly as searing as his work with Cream or the Dominos, but Cocaine is nevertheless a good place to start when exploring Clapton’s catalogue as a solo artist. Electrifying riffs rightly impact the audience of the pulsating highs and disarming perils ofâÂ?¦cocaine.

I Shot The Sheriff

This piece of Bob Marley legacy became Eric’s first number one in the U.S. He first got a taste of Marley when a session guitarist played an album during a recording session. Turned out that Eric couldn’t get enough of it and ended up jamming to I Shot the Sheriff an entire day! Shortly after the release of his chart-topping cover version, Eric got a call from Bob himself and he shares that “I kept asking him if it was a true story – did he really shoot the sheriff? What was it all about? He wouldn’t really commit himself. He said that some parts of it were true, but he wasn’t going to say which parts.”

Wonderful Tonight

This may be Eric’s most overplayed standard, blaring through afternoon ‘rewind’ radio programs just about everywhere. Even non-Clapton fans will have probably heard this song at one time. But discounting this fact – -let’s face it – -this is about Eric’s most tender, poignant ballad and the anthem of many a hopeless romantic. He wrote this song while waiting for Patti – -his future wife – -dress up for a party they were going to. Here is simply a beautiful song for a beautiful lady that inspired some of Eric’s most creative moments in his four-decade long career.

Tears In Heaven

Where has that electric guitar-clad rock god gone? Eric dons an acoustic for this number, and shows the world that he can do music like his heroes before him have done – -stripped down, unamplified fingerpicking that draws from a very sincere, moving well of feeling. His performance of this song in 1994’s Unplugged was his greatest success story since his downward spiral into drug addiction and his subsequent rehabilitation. Behind his triumph though, was an aching tragedy. Eric originally penned this song for his son Conor, then 4 years old, who died after falling off the balcony of his Italian lover Lori Del Santo’s condominium unit in New York. This is Eric unplugged, as if mellowed out with age and a trove of experiences – -fragile, tender, yet intensely reflective.

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