Top 10 Eric Clapton Songs

Script written by Aaron Cameron. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Slowhand. Born in 1945 in Surrey, England, Eric Clapton built his reputation as a singer and musician while playing in bands like The Yardbirds and Cream, as well as a solo artist. His blues-influenced rock has endured throughout the decades while his guitar-playing is practically legendary. For this list, we’re not only looking at Eric Clapton’s solo hits but also songs from the various bands, groups, and projects he has performed with during his career. Basically, if you can hear it at a Clapton concert, it’s fair game here. And, as usual, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Eric Clapton songs. Special thanks to our users Paige Downs, Salival, Jimmy Washington, richardbain and aldqbigsquare for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Aaron Cameron.

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Slowhand. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Eric Clapton songs.

For this list, we’re not only looking at Eric Clapton’s solo hits but also songs from the various bands, groups, and projects he has performed with during his career. Basically, if you can hear it at a Clapton concert, it’s fair game here. And, as usual, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “Badge” by Cream
Goodbye (1969)

Co-written by George Harrison, this track was the standout off Cream’s farewell album. While popular lore says the title came from the chords used in the song, this is a myth. The title actually originated from Clapton misreading the word “bridge” on the ex-Beatle’s handwritten lyric sheet. For some additional myth busting: the Quiet One does play on the track under the name L’Angelo Misterioso, but it’s Slowhand himself playing the Beatle-y guitar line before the song’s badge... er, bridge.

#9: “Old Love”
Journeyman (1989)

Written with fellow guitar-slinger Robert Cray, this blues rock number originally appeared on Clapton’s 1989 solo record. Journeyman marked Slowhand’s return to form and sobriety after a decade of substance abuse and hit-or-miss releases. By fusing ‘80s rock sounds with his blues roots and reconnecting with his audience, Clapton entered the ‘90s back on his feet. “Old Love” gained new life three years later when he performed it acoustically for his Unplugged album.

#8:”I Shot the Sheriff”
461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)

Okay, yes it’s a Bob Marley song and no, to the best of our knowledge, Slowhand has never killed a law enforcement officer, but this song’s still pretty righteous. A bit thicker, a bit tighter, and perhaps a bit whiter, Clapton’s take on the Marley tune actually outperformed the original – and in doing so, helped bring reggae - and the Jamaican “wailer” - to a much wider audience in the early ‘70s. The American chart-topper was also a global top ten hit and was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.

#7: “Bell Bottom Blues” by Derek and the Dominos
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

One of several songs inspired by Miss Pattie Boyd, this Dominos number is sheer heartache. Clapton wrote the track when the then-Mrs. George Harrison asked the guitarist to pick her up a pair of bell-bottoms while he was in the States. Whether or not she got them is a mystery lost to the ages. While the song didn’t make a big splash on the charts, it has endured as a classic and is one of a handful of highlights from the Layla album.

#6: “Wonderful Tonight”
Slowhand (1977)

Like the previous entry in our list, “Wonderful Tonight” is also about Pattie Boyd – except that by 1977, she was no longer with Harrison and was actually in a relationship with Clapton. Written while he was waiting for Boyd to get ready for a party at Paul McCartney’s, the pop ballad went on to be an American top 20 hit, a Clapton live staple, and a slow dance favorite worldwide. By showing a more tender side of the guitarist than usual, it added to the mix of styles and flavors of its parent album.

#5: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream
Disraeli Gears (1967)

Like the wah-wah fest known as “White Room,” “Sunshine of Your Love” proved Cream could rock out and trip out just as hard as frienemies the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Written after bassist Jack Bruce saw Hendrix in concert, the song features a co-vocal with Clapton and a tight locked-in bass and guitar riff between the two. However, the real attention-getter here is Clapton’s milky, woman-tone solo, which helped cement his reputation as “God”.

#4: “Cocaine”
Slowhand (1977)

Written and first recorded by guitarist JJ Cale, this ode to ‘70s pixie dust is nonetheless a Clapton signature song. While to most listeners “Cocaine” appears to praise the party powder, Slowhand has always seen it as a disguised anti-drug anthem. Because of the mixed message, Clapton dropped the dopey ditty from his set list for years before falling off the wagon for it again in the early 2000s. The guitarist now harshens the buzz and instead adds “that dirty cocaine” when he performs it live.

#3: “Tears in Heaven”
“Rush” soundtrack (1991)

First released as part of the “Rush” movie soundtrack, this teary heart-breaker is perhaps more well-known for the full acoustic version released on Unplugged the next year. Co-written by the guitarist and Will Jennings, the soft rocker deals with Clapton’s grief following the accidental death of his young son the previous year. While popular and emotional, the hit was eventually dropped from Clapton’s set list in 2004 after he came to terms with the loss, and he’s only played it rarely since.

#2: “Crossroads” by Cream
Wheels of Fire (1968)

Released as a blistering live track on Cream’s 1968 release, this Robert Johnson number has become synonymous with Clapton: lending its title to greatest hits packages, his guitar festival and even a drug rehabilitation centre in Antigua. While not as well known as the trio’s take, Slowhand’s original recording of “Crossroads” was actually made with a short-lived studio band in 1966. Post-Cream, the song has remained a Clapton live favorite throughout his career.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Change the World” “Phenomenon” soundtrack (1996)
- “Motherless Children” 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
- “Little Wing” by Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
- “Lay Down Sally” Slowhand (1977)

#1: “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)

Taking our top spot is the ultimate Clapton signature track. Featuring twin guitar lines from Slowhand himself as well as the late Duane Allman, the track was written to grab the attention of Pattie Boyd, wife of Beatle and Clapton’s close friend George Harrison. It worked, and the pair eventually married with Harrison’s blessing in 1979. The song received a full makeover in 1992 for his Unplugged album and became a hit all over again - even netting the guitarist a Grammy for Best Rock Song.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Eric Clapton song? For more guitar slinging Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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