Everything I Know About Eric Clapton

One of my regulars came in last week at his usual time, which is anywhere from an hour and a half to 10 minutes before close.  I’d been hoping to close early because by 10:30; I’d made an abysmal amount in tips and it wasn’t likely to get better.  I don’t know about your value systems, but mine shuts down at $20 for eight hours of work.

I don’t mind this regular.  He’s usually polite, occasionally annoying.  One of those “heyyyyy, stop me if ya heard this one!” kind of guys.  Car salesman-ish.  But he doesn’t mind paying for top shelf liquor straight up, which, although it doesn’t earn me any more money, is something I respect.  And he tips.  The other night, he had two Courvoisiers and talked to me about Eric Clapton.

Okay, side project.  Everyone think of your Top 3 Favorite Bands of All Time, Ever.  And don’t pull that High Fidelity shit where you pretend that you have different favorite bands for every possible situation you could ever find yourself in.  Just pick your three undisputed, all-purpose, would-sell-valuable-things-including-possibly-an-internal-organ-for-a-lifetime-ticket-to-any-and-all-shows-they-have favorite bands.  Solo artists can also be included.

I have occasionally waxed poetic (to the best of my ability, which isn’t saying much for someone who still doesn’t understand iambic pentameter) about my own favorite bands, and it’s quite possible that before I learned about tact, I tried to beat others about the head and face with them.  But I don’t do that (a lot) anymore, because I’ve realized that no one really cares about my tastes, at least not to the extent that I do.

With that said, there is always going to be one guy in a bar who spends something like 27 minutes lecturing you on the conceptual genius of Yes.  This guy will also put at least $5 into the jukebox to play 6 Yes songs in a row, and this is using the 2-credit option because no reasonable bar would ever keep Yes on their regular playlist.  Lastly, this guy will be both offended and horrified when you are forced to admit that you’re not really all that into Yes at all.  In fact, you can count on one hand the times you’ve ever contemplated Yes’ existence on this planet.

No one is going to change anyone’s mind, but I find that mild disagreement is far better than “dude, they suck.”  Which is what I’m thinking most of the time.  People who love Yes, Styx, Journey, or any band that is or sounds remotely like or was on popular radio at the same time as Creed, please take note.

I don’t hate Eric Clapton, nor do I really dislike him.  I just don’t agree with what my regular was saying, which was that Eric Clapton is the greatest guitarist who ever lived.

Chuck Klosterman has a thing about this in Killing Yourself To Live , and although he is sometimes a contrarian hipster, I was glad to see that he agreed with me.  Eric Clapton is a good guitarist.  He is even a very good guitarist.  But he is not a great guitarist, nor is he the greatest in the world.

Eric Clapton is a good guitarist because he is consistent.  He is productive.  He is reliable, even when the musicians around him are not (did you know that the guy who wrote the piano solo in “Layla” was a schizophrenic who murdered his own mother?).  With this in mind, possibly the only way Eric Clapton will ever be a great guitarist is if he somehow lives longer than Keith Richards (which is impossible) and continues to be so consistent, productive, and reliable while doing do.

But that’s it.

Eric Clapton is not inventive enough to be the world’s greatest guitarist.  He is, as Chuck Klosterman says, a workingman guitarist.  He doesn’t have a distinct style.  He’s just there; proficient for sure, but he doesn’t have much style and he’s not a virtuoso.  And in a world that has been/is being occupied by Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Slash, virtuosos (deservedly) get all the attention.

But this isn’t really about Eric Clapton.  It’s about the point that I’ve failed to make, which is that my regular was stuck in utter disbelief that I did not agree with his views on Eric Clapton, and as a result, told me that I was “always in the negative.”

I’ve heard this before.  Look, my disposition would probably never be described as “sunny.”  It would not be called “amiable,” or “accommodating,” or, depending on the time of the month and whether or not my rent has been paid, “pleasant.”  I’m an all right person and I’m quite nice to the people I like, but I see no use in lying to anyone, especially about an opinion I don’t share.  So what if I didn’t agree with him about Eric Clapton?  So what if I didn’t agree with him about Chuck Mangione or the Grateful Dead or the supreme holy importance of Mizzou football?  Aren’t I entitled to an opinion, as gently disagreeable as it may be?

And what makes him think I’ve got a problem with negativity?  Sir, I’m not going to bars and telling people why they should like everything that I like.  I’m just reacting.  Maybe I’m not so much negative as you are 0 for about 100.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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