Eric Clapton has dropped his latest single – a cover of the classic Moon River – which features the unmistakable electric guitar excellence of the late Jeff Beck.
Released today (May 12), Moon River marks one of the final studio recordings committed to tape by Beck, having been recorded not long before the guitar icon’s passing earlier this year.
It’s a thought that makes the first minute-and-a-half of the song – which is reserved entirely for Beck and his guitar – even more powerful. The melodies are a masterclass in dynamics and feel, with Beck transforming the humble vocal motif into a six-string sucker punch that will leave you with a lump in your throat.
Delivered with the Stratocaster master’s usual individual excellence, it’s an interpretation of Moon River’s melody that only Beck alone could perform, helped on by the percussive padding of his finger plucks, effortless vibrato, and a piercing guitar tone that cuts straight to the core.
Clapton’s vocals get in on the action around the 1:40 mark, but Beck’s presence doesn’t go anywhere, later returning in full force for an extended, register-traversing return to the heart-swelling solos. When paired with the music video, it makes for a moving effort from the two Yardbirds, and a fitting finale to their storied studio partnership.
Moon River was put together by Clapton and his longtime collaborator Simon Climie in January 2022, with the pair later seeking out Beck’s six-string services. Unsurprisingly, what they received from Beck blew them away.
“In January 2022, Eric and I recorded a version which was more of a ballad – and naturally the guitar and vocals were brilliant,” Climie recalled. “When we were happy with the track, Eric asked me to send it over to Jeff. Jeff loved it. And soon after that in the spring of 2022, Jeff added his unmistakable guitar part. It knocked us off our feet.”
Moon River was released alongside How Could We Know, for which Clapton teamed up with Climi, Judith Hill and Daniel Santiago.
The new release comes after Clapton announced the lineup for his 2023 Crossroads Festival, which is set to offer perhaps the greatest lineup of guitar talent ever assembled.
Clapton also recently announced two Jeff Beck tribute concerts – a pair of star-studded events that will feature a similar caliber of guest guitarists, including the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Billy Gibbons, Susan Tedeschi and many more.