Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I've got a rock and roll heart...

Now, most of my friends know that I have a fondness for the music of Eric Clapton. I have a special place in my heart for one song in particular: "I've Got A Rock & Roll Heart." I loved it when it came out in '83, and I still love it whenever I hear it (which is rarely.....).

I have come to realize that in some ways, the song describes me. About eighteen months ago, my old boss was teasing me about someone from a nearby parish who spoke of me with great interest. Now, this person was also musically inclined but totally opposite of me. He was in a chamber orchestra or something like that; I sing pop. I've written papers on rock and roll history -- he had written a letter to the editor denouncing rock and roll: not as the devil's tool (to which I thought a very hearty "thank God"), but as "pablum for the masses."

Nuh-uh. You don't say that to me. No, no, no, no. And the song that went through my head as I thought of the incident was Clapton's "I've Got A Rock & Roll Heart." And that is me -- it's not that I don't enjoy the finer things in life, because I certainly do. I'm also at ease with simple tastes and simple pleasures. It's taken me many years, but I have finally learned to be comfortable in my own skin, with who I am, where I'm from, where I am. I have finally grown into a "what you see is what you get" person.


bolivar said...

Yeah, babe - you go girl!!

I have always loved that song! I thought that the "Money & Cigarettes" album was the best studio album he put out in the 1980s, & "Rock and Roll Heart" one of his finest moments. It sure beats "Wonderful Tonight", doesn't it?

nettiemac said...

Absolutely, my friend! In my book, Clapton can do no wrong... except for "Wonderful Tonight" and I'll just chalk it up to a momentary blip. A momentary blip that unfortunately has been burned to a crisp on the radio. I even had friends who used it as their "first dance" song at their reception. It was all I could do to keep from running out of the room screaming and trying not to gag.

Talmadge G. said...

No, no, no, no, NO!

The worst song Clapton ever did, in my dubiously-humble opin', would have to be the horridly insipid, bathetic bull excrement single he released in 1996:

"Change the World."

That'un makes "Wonderful Tonight" sound like "Mainline Florida."

But for my money, continue to give me "Another Ticket." I've always loved that ballad.

It's in the way you use him, folks.


nettiemac said...

We will agree to disagree: I far prefer "Change the World" to "Wonderful Tonight" .....

bolivar said...

Strangely enough, I find myself agreeing to both Tal & Nettie. "Another Ticket" is possibly the most overlooked Clapton song in his repertoire. However, I infinitely prefer "Change the World" to "Wonderful Tonight".

How is this for a debate - as much as I love Clapton, there is one thing I have noticed about his work. For my tastes, Clapton is at his best when he has someone of equal or better talent pushing him. Want proof? Here it is:

1. Listen to the Bluesbreakers with John Mayall. This album proved that he didn't earn the nickname of "God" for nothing.

2. How about Cream, with Bruce & Baker? Need I say more? "Disraeli Gears" is one of my all-time favorite albums.

3. Listen to Blind Faith, with Steve Winwood. In 1992, in a letter to Talmadge, I put "Sea of Joy" on my list of 10 songs I would want on my desert island. I can probably identify with "Can't Find My Way Home" more than any other song out there.

4. Derek and the Dominos. Duane Allman was Clapton's perfect foil. Duane's slide guitar licks with Clapton's bluesy riffs. The one album they did, "Layla", well... let's just say this: 77 minutes, not a wasted note.

5. Fast forward to 1983 - "Money & Cigarettes" album. Ry Cooder in for Duane Allman, & even though this album will never approach the levels of "Layla" (how many miracles do we get in one lifetime?), this was his best album since "461 Ocean Boulevard".

6. Fast forward, once again, to 1999 - "Riding with the King", with B.B. King, was his best album since "Money...". And this should surprise you... how?

Take nothing away from Clapton - he still puts on a killer live show (I saw him in 1992 - thanks, mom, for the tickets!). He was at Alltel a couple years ago, & I could shoot myself for missing that show, not only because of Clapton, but because of his opening act - Robert Randolph and the Family Band. If you haven't heard of this band, you must! Randolph will be the next guitar hero, even though his instrument of choice is the 13-string pedal steel. They performed on a PBS special some time ago, and wow! Bluesy, funky, soulful, spiritual (a la Santana), even a tinge of psychedelica in their music. And they also rock out. Killer stuff!

However, when Clapton is running on all cylinders, he's still better than just about all of the competition.

nettiemac said...

There are only 2 acts left that I want to see live and in person:

1. Steely Dan (had the chance in '93, but didn't have the $$ at the time)

2. Eric Clapton

Talmadge G. said...

Re "Change the World": As I would say to my dearest wifely one, "you can like that one for me." :-)

Admittedly, it's a Song With Baggage®, memories of a family vacation from hell -- summer '96, and that song was all over the radio at the time.

Agreed, Clapton's at his best with motivation.

How about one to trump both "Wonderful Tonight" AND "Change the World": "LAYLA" UNPLUGGED. "Layla" was meant to be rock 'n' roll. The perfect record to play when the DJ on "FM 88" wants a "control room quickie."


nettiemac said...

I will drink to that, TG. Layla should only be played one way: off the 1971 release, cranked up to 11.

bolivar said...

Oh, I agree 100% with Nettiemac on cranking the original "Layla" to 11! Just listen to Clapton's vocal on that version - painful, tortured, desperate, longing. On the "Unplugged" version, he sounds totally bored. First time I heard the unplugged version, I swore Duane Allman was spinning in his grave!