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Wednesday Jukebox: I’ve Got A Rock and Roll Heart

March 30, 2011

66 years ago today, Eric Patrick Clapton was born, giving air guitarists everywhere never ending supply of guitar solos, from which to perfect their living room rockstar antics. When people ask me why I like Clapton so much, they seem confused that it’s not his self ascribed “blues man” status or his amazing hair or even his guitar playing. No, I like Clapton because his songs make me feel good. They remind me of great memories spent with great people – namely my mom. That’s all. Yes, I’m a huge fan and probably more of an expert on Clapton than I let on, but at the end of the day it is the music more so than the man and his myth that moves me.

Pretending This cut from Journeyman is pretty standard Clapton fare. Its intro is guitaralicious, its hook and chorus are catchy and the lyrics are kind of not that memorable. This isn’t to suggest the lyrics are fatuous; they’re not. But well, I don’t really think of Clapton the way I think of say Carole King, Dolly Parton or The Boss in terms of lyrics. Most of his lyrics seem to be about women who work his nerves. Nothing particularly novel about that.

Bad Love I see you, Phil Collins! And Nathan East is running and telling that bass. He’s one of best bass players EVER. (Sorry Nile Rogers) Clapton + lip fuzz usually denotes a harder edge. Once again, he appears to be pissed at some women. Nevertheless, the intro, the bass and guitar are blazing on this track. See also: “Before You Accuse Me”. Foreigner’s Mick Jones co-wrote this song, which might explain why the lyrics are a tad more thoughtful.

The Core “The Core” might be notable for the incredible and seemingly endless guitar solo, but really the entire success of the song rests solely at the feet of the great vocalist Marcy Levy, who you younger folk might know as Marcella Detroit of Shakespears Sister fame. Clapton worked with several notable female vocalists: Yvonne Elliman and Sheryl Crow.

My Father’s Eyes While definitely a catchy tune, it’s not without strong Rite-Aid or grocery store dj associations.

Riding with the King Another catchy tune, which was largely an excuse to get these two friends together to make beautiful music together.

It’s In the Way That You Use It Key change at 2:39 always gets me! From the great (and kind of underrated) Scorsese film The Color of Money and co-written by The Band’s terminally crabby Robbie Robertson. The track also appears on Clapton’s own August LP (my second fave) and oddly enough this is one of the only tracks on the LP NOT produced by buddy Phil Collins.

I’ve Got a Rock and Roll Heart My favorite Clapton song from my favorite Clapton LP – Money and Cigarettes. There’s an irresistible sweetness to this track, which always puts a huge smile on my face. That said, I will never try to sing this at karaoke again. It’s written in some weird key, which only makes it singable by Clapton himself.

Happy birthday, Mr. Clapton! Thanks for keeping me bopping along through many a Saturday morning cleaning spree and many a midnight road trip.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Lani permalink
    March 30, 2011 12:02 pm

    Happy birthday Mr. Clapton! I’ve never had a huge knowledge of Clapton myself, but my partner is a massive fan, and him being a guitarist I now know a good deal of Clapton’s work from him strumming along. As such, Clapton now holds a dear place in my heart, at least by proxy. I think for my favorites it’s a tie between “Rock and Roll Heart” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

  2. March 30, 2011 1:22 pm

    Next to the music itself, what I appreciate most about Mr. Clapton is how gracefully he aged… he wasn’t quite 50 when “Unplugged” came out, and he started to look less like a rock star and more like an old blues hand.

  3. IrishUp permalink
    March 30, 2011 2:21 pm

    Wonderful tribute!
    I can’t believe it: all these years I thought that Marcy Levy was Emmylou Harris – and I owned “Slowhand”. stoopy me.

    I freekin love The Core, but for a while there it was almost ruined by Monster Truck events. Luckily, these things seem to have lost popularity in my neck o’the woods. It’s so obnoxious when that blistering riff is not followed by lovely Marcy’s voice, but some dood screaming “SUNDAY!!SUNDAY!!!!!!SUUUNNDAAAYYY!!!!!”

    I’m not always a fan of what EC does with blues standards (i c u, After Michalobe), but I loved what happens when you mix Bobby Blue Bland, EC and The Band and Scorsese:

  4. March 30, 2011 5:07 pm

    @Irish Up: I agree re: blues. “Before You Accuse Me”, “Crossroads” and “Running on Faith” are about as bluesy as old Slowhand ought to do. I might be a bad person for saying this, but his version of “I Shot the Sheriff” drives me bananas. I love it so much.

    Haha, I know what you mean about “The Core”. Omg, It was the bumper music for this wretched local drive time dude when I lived in NC and it nearly ruined the song – well the intro anyway – for me.

    @Lani: Ooh, I like “Nobody Knows You…” too. What do you think of Clapton’s voice. I know that proxy fans tend to quibble most about his voice.

    @redlami – I love how Clapton has transitioned over the years into a classy old dude with shined shoes and sharp trousers.

  5. March 30, 2011 5:32 pm

    Ooooh Eric Clapton and MC Hammer share a birthday!

  6. hsofia permalink
    March 30, 2011 7:03 pm

    “My Father’s Eyes” is probably my favorite Clapton tune in that I can listen to it over and over and over. I used to be super fond of “It’s In the Way That You Use It.” I forgot all about that song (and the movie).

  7. Lani permalink
    March 31, 2011 1:44 am

    @Snarky: I don’t feel particularly strongly about Clapton’s voice either way, but I will say that I think his singing voice aged quite well. I love how he sounds on the Unplugged album, both his guitar and his voice of a really lovely rich quality and it just sounds so smooth.

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