Eric Clapton: Blues Power
GW In your soundtrack work, do you feel as though you’re coming up with a certain approach, or is it strictly a product of the story and characters in each case?
CLAPTON It depends on the project. On [the 1988 film] Homeboy, I got a lot of feedback from the director and the producers. They wanted a specific thing to echo the character played by Mickey Rourke; they wanted to have an element of country, an element of blues; they wanted it to be wistful and slightly melancholic. So they were with me while I wrote the melodies and recorded them, and they had a lot to say about it. That’s how that one came about, but internally I’m always pretty sure of what I want to do, and if they don’t agree I’ll generally override them— unless they’re really definite about something.
But that film was a bit of a disaster because we finished it, and then sent it off to Mickey, and he didn’t like it. He said the music didn’t echo his character strongly enough. So then the director walked off, and Mickey came and started recutting the film to make this character stronger. And I had to recut some of the music with Mickey directing me. I have yet to see the finished project, but it felt better with him involved.
The other one, Lethal Weapon 2, I did while I was doing Journeyman. It was a joy to do because I was involved with Michael Kamen and David Sanborn again—this time live with David. For the original Lethal Weapon, we recorded with him in the States and me in England, but this time we actually had a chance to play off one another. We took each main theme and extended it to make a record, so it’s going to be a killer album, one of the strongest things I’ve done.
GW When you record your blues album, will you work with your own band or will you seek out musicians who play blues exclusively for a living?
CLAPTON The plan as it stands is to recreate the kind of Texas blues band that Bobby Blue Bland had. If I can, I’ll get [saxophonists] Fathead Newman and Hank Crawford again and supplement them with other horns, and also Johnny Johnson, from Chuck Berry’s band, on piano, and try to make a hybrid that isn’t particularly Texas or Chicago but has the elements of each—and then just superimpose myself on top.
We’ll do material which has already been done—“Five Long Years” maybe, or “She Moves Me” and some Muddy songs and early Bobby Bland things—but mix it all up. The reason I’ve gone on this, and I think it could be a success, is that one track I did for The Color of Money, which never made it to the album—you can only hear it in the film way in the background— was a version of “It’s My Life” by Bobby Blues Bland, backed by a little English blues band called the Bigtown Playboys. Have you seen them? They’re great. The keyboard player [Mike Sanchez] is unbelievable. He has it down. We did the session in a day, and that’s what’s inspired me to go ahead on this. I want to do it with a fairly big band; I don’t want to do a country blues album. Sophisticated arrangements and modern. I’m not looking for authenticity, just feeling.
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