The two songs that were painful for Eric Clapton to sing

Eric Clapton

Not many rock and roll guitar genres exist today that aren’t heavily influenced by Eric Clapton. For most of his career, he remained true to the blues. However, in some of his work with Cream, he invented the sounds of hard rock and was open to exploring other genres, including reggae. This exploration produced some of the most renowned rock and roll in history. These days, “Slowhand” shouldn’t have any trouble playing anything at all. However, live, “Tears in Heaven” and “Circus Left Town” were always difficult for him to play.

We must go back to Clapton’s transition to soft rock if we are to comprehend his distaste for some of his greatest ballads. In 1969, people would have thought you were crazy if you had told them that the guitarist behind hits like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Crossroads” would one day create soft, pillowy dad rock.

After splitting up with Derek and the Dominoes and Blind Faith, Clapton eventually adopted a new sound that was more in line with popular music than the bluesy freakouts. Though a song like “Wonderful Tonight” isn’t exactly screaming for a distortion-heavy guitar exercise, he could still crush a solo when he felt like it.

Tears in Heaven” is the crown jewel of this phase of Clapton’s career. Even though his Unplugged performance may have marked the pinnacle of that version of his sound. Both of his songs, “Circus Left Town” included, were about recording his memories of his late son. He had died after falling out of a window while he was on tour.

Circus Left Town” is arguably more depressing than “Tears in Heaven“. This is the tearjerker that always leaves everyone in pieces whenever he plays it. The first song describes what happens when Clapton sees his son after death. However, hearing him discuss his final days with his son is much more melancholy. It’s as if he’s telling himself to cherish each day because you never know when it will end.

It’s not an easy task to perform these two songs every night. Clapton has admitted that pieces like “Layla” occasionally trip him up due to their complexity. He told the guitarist, “It’s been close on occasions where I could choke and not be able to do it. But then what would happen? It would be mawkish and embarrassing to have to stop. It truly does take some self-control, focus, and discipline to stay on the straight and narrow. He also avoided stepping off it.

Playing these songs repeatedly has felt almost cruel, given the dubious activities Clapton had engaged in during his solo career and beyond. Nobody would wish for their worst enemy to have to sing a song every night and relive the pain of losing a child. Losing a child is already one of the hardest things a person can go through.

However, it’s not as though we should attempt to relive Clapton’s anguish with each note he plays. It’s about appreciating the time he spent with his son. He realizes that, despite the unhappy ending, it was better that he had been a loving father than he could have been.

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