Eric Clapton: Time Pieces
GW Do you think there are any modern blues songs written today which do the same kind of thing?
CLAPTON Yeah, oh yeah. In fact, I would like to do a couple of Robert Cray’s songs. He’s the last of the great heroes, I think. A great singer, writer and player, too.
GW Have you got any advice for today’s guitar players?
CLAPTON Listen to the past. I’ve run into a lot of players in the past 10 or 15 years who didn’t really know where it was coming from. They thought it came from Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck, or they thought it came from Buddy Guy or B.B. King. Well, it comes from further back, and if you go back and listen to Robert Johnson and Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Willie Johnson and Blind Willie McTell, there’s thousands of them that all have something that led to where it is now. The beauty of it is that you can take one of those things and make it yours. But by learning too much from the later players, you don’t have that much opportunity to make something original. I listened to [New Orleans trumpet player] King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and Archie Shepp. I listened to everything I could that came from that place that they call “the blues” but in form isn’t necessarily the blues.
GW A lot of those guys are jazz players.
CLAPTON They are, but they all would acknowledge that if you can’t play the blues, you can’t play jazz anyway. So, listen, listen, listen, and go back as far as you dare. That’s what I still do today. I still listen to Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell for their beauty and simplicity and to get a feeling, because that’s what it’s about. It’s not about technique, it’s not about what kind of instrument you play or how many strings it’s got or how fast you can play or how loud or quiet it is; it’s about how it feels and how it makes you feel when you play.
GW Finally, you once said you had two ambitions in life: one was to play one note in a blues solo that could bring an audience to the verge of tears, and the other was to sleep with 10,000 women. Have you…
CLAPTON No—and I haven’t slept with 10,000 women either. Still got both of them to do…if I live that long.
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