The the mark of a great song is when a bad covers band can play it and you still get the same feeling. It’s like The Beatles: if somebody plays Hey Jude, whether it’s just karaoke or McCartney singing, it’s always a great tune. Same thing with Eric’s songs.
He’s the best at making things very accessible and deceptively simple-sounding. My favourite Clapton song… Old Love [co-credited to Robert Cray], off Journeyman, and also Keep On Growing and Bell-Bottom Blues [both from Layla]. It’d be a three-way tie. It’s a simplicity thing. Old Love is just two or three chords. And those words… You felt him on that. That song has come out of experience.
I don’t stockpile songs, I write to order. I wait until we start a record and then I’ll go, ‘Well, this is a snapshot of my life.’ You listen to Clapton’s catalogue, it sounds like he does that too. His lyrics are very powerful. Lyrically, the best stuff you’ll find is on songs he wrote with Will Jennings, stuff like Tears In Heaven.
Everyone talks about Blues Breakers and Cream and Layla… I honestly think his latest record has just as much as fire, it’s just a more mature version of that same guy. I think he can do what he likes now. He’s earned the right.