Saturday, October 20, 2007

Clapton – The Autobiography

I just finished reading Eric Clapton's autobiography and found it to be a fascinating and powerful story. I recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed his music over the years and in reading it you really get a sense of Clapton's voice. This feels almost more like he is sitting in the room telling his story – the writing is very conversational and clear.

Generally, I felt that it was too short. Cream, for example, gets one chapter and there is so much more to say about those days that I'd like to hear some of the other stories. But in fairness, this book is really in many ways the story of Clapton's slide into drug addiction and alcoholism and his recovery. That is clearly the story he wants to tell because he considers that primary. His secondary story, it seems, is that he now, after 20 years of sobriety, has sorted out the mess he made of his life and has a young wife and a family who he dearly loves. In fact, the last part of the book may actually be a little long as he celebrates how ordinary his life has become. It's hard to begrudge him spending those pages on his happy days, especially after being so candid about his failings early on in the book.

I wish there had been a bit more about the making of the music but then again I almost always say that about first person accounts by musicians. The making of music is hard to talk about and who played what and why is incredibly boring for all but a few of us music nerds so I can see that those things are toned down in books like this. And, frankly, his life was about a lot more than recording albums, even though that is the only part I got to see before this.

It is interesting to me, not having known the story of his addiction and alcoholism well before this, that the point at which he got sober matches well with the point at which I think his playing improved. I consider Journeyman to be a turning point album for him (and I did at the time too) and it turns out that this is soon after he stopped drinking. In fact, his recorded output has been quite strong from that point on. Not surprising.

So overall, this is a fine book, one that I'm sure I'll enjoy picking up again and reading certain passages from, especially when I'm listening to his music for a certain era.

1 comment:

Isorski said...

Great review! I agree with almost everything you said. I was amazed at how much energy he put into stealing Pattie Boyd from George Harrison, and then when he got her, he started to treat her badly right off. But it's a joyous book in the end, as he does clean up and get it together.

I wrote a review of "Clapton" at You might have to scroll down a little to get to it. Check it out!