Eric Clapton: Amazing Grace
COLETTI I’d never seen you play finger-style prior to this performance. Is this a new development?
CLAPTON I did play a lot of fingerstyle when I first started playing. I could never really find the right combination of flatpick or fingerpick so playing fingerstyle is really the easiest way—though it’s quite strenuous on the fingertips. I think you get a nice tone that way; I wouldn’t mind trying it on electric. There is a beautiful sound to be gained from the actual touch of the finger to the string, but that requires a lot of dexterity. Mark Knopfler’s got it and Stevie Ray had it, but I haven’t done it for along time. It’s something I just recently started to work on again.
COLETTI Is that why you’re soaking your fingertips as we speak?
CLAPTON You need surgical spirits to harden them up and witch hazel to take the sting out. That’s the deal.
COLETTI I was a little bit surprised that you decided to use your whole band.
CLAPTON When we came in for rehearsals I wasn’t sure what I’d do—whether it should just be me solo or with another guitar and/or bass. So we tried it a couple of days with everyone and I thought we’d whittle the band down through process of elimination and say, “Well, that’s nice, but it’s not quite right.” And keep going like that until it sounded right. But everyone had such a nice touch and they all managed to restrain themselves. I think it’s a great experience in self-restraint and discipline. I mean, guys like [drummer]Steve Ferrone very rarely play this quietly. Anyhow, everyone held back, so I ended using almost everyone on almost everything, and I think it still sounds good.
COLETTI Prior to your own appearance, had you been aware of the show Unplugged?
CLAPTON The only time I was really aware of it was a couple of years ago when I was in America and saw Don Henley do it. I also caught a bit of Hall & Oates singing [the Beatles’] “Don’t Let Me Down,” which was great. Since I thought I’d like to do the show one day, I sort of avoided watching it—I didn’t want to be influenced by the way other people approached it. In fact, someone sent me a tape of Elton John on the show and I refused to watch it, because it was getting close to me doing the show and I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted to do it as if it were brand new. I don’t know how my show will tally in with others, but we’ll see.
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