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Eric Clapton Covers Robert Johnson

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Eric Clapton will release an entire album of covers of songs by Robert Johnson on March 23rd. Me and Mr. Johnson will feature the guitar legend's interpretations of fourteen songs by the Delta blues legend, including "Love in Vain" and "Hellhound on My Trail". Clapton regularly included Johnson covers in his live performances, two of which, "Walking Blues" and "Malted Milk," appeared on his 1992 Unplugged album.

"It is a remarkable thing to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man," Clapton said. "I think of it as a landmark that I navigate by, whenever I feel myself going adrift. Up until I heard his music, everything I had ever heard seemed as if it was dressed up for a shop window somewhere. At first, it scared me in its intensity, and I could only take it in small doses. I could never really get away from it, and in the end, it spoiled me for everything else."

Clapton was joined on the record guitarists Andy Fairweather Low and Doyle Bramhall II, keyboardist Billy Preston, bassist Nathan East, drummer Steve Gadd and harmonica player Jerry Portnoy.

Track listing for Me and Mr. Johnson:

When You Got a Good Friend

Little Queen of Spades

They're Red Hot

Me and the Devil Blues

Traveling Riverside Blues

Last Fair Deal Gone Down

Stop Breakin' Down Blues

Milkcow's Calf Blues

Kindhearted Woman Blues

Come On in My Kitchen

If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day

Love in Vain

32-20 Blues

Hellhound on My Trail

Buy it

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Looking forward to hearing it.

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Looking forward to hearing it.

Me too,

IMHO Robert Johnson was one of the best blues musicians ever and to have Clapton cover an entire Cd of his music would just be incredible. I can't wait

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Peter Green does a pretty good Robert Johnson tribute album too.

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can i have some info on that umma? I love peter green

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The Peter Green Splinter Group - Robert Johnson Songbook

Came out around 1999 I think

peter green - 01 When You Got A Good Friend

peter green - 02- 32-20 Blues

peter green - 03 phonograph blues

peter green - 04 Last Fair Deal Gone Down

peter green - 05 stop breaking down

peter green - 06 walkin' blues

peter green - 07 love in vain blues

peter green - 08 ramblin' on my mind

peter green - 09 Stones In My Passway

peter green - 11 honeymoon blues

peter green - 13 If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day

peter green - 14 Sweet Home Chicago

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Guitarist finally ready to pay tribute to hero Robert Johnson with CD

The Associated Press

Updated: 2:41 p.m. ET March 25, 2004

NEW YORK - Of course, Eric Clapton remembers the first time he heard Robert Johnson’s music.

He was 15. Already an aspiring blues guitarist, he would play a limited repertoire in the corner of a pub. Clapton and a friend used to buy blues albums, unheard, simply because they were intrigued by pictures on the cover.

One day, his friend brought a copy of Johnson’s “King of the Delta Blues” album to the pub. The friend didn’t particularly like it.

“I didn’t know quite what to make of it, either,” said Clapton, who nearly 45 years later has recorded an album solely composed of the late Johnson’s songs. The CD, “Me and Mr. Johnson,” will be released next Tuesday.

“It was the first record I’d heard that didn’t have any kind of attempt to be entertaining,” he said. “It was just simply what it was. As I listened to it more and more, it got stronger each time I would go back to it. It was my first experience of music happening that way, that each time you listened to it something more would be revealed.”

He heard the attributes of adolescence — low self-esteem, loneliness, sexual desire and frustration — expressed in raw form through Johnson’s voice and guitar.

“It became like a beacon to me, that album,” Clapton said in an interview with The Associated Press.

It still is.

All roads lead back to Johnson

Throughout his career, Clapton has repeatedly turned to Johnson when he found himself drifting musically.

“I get in touch with the little boy, the adolescent, again and I find that very invigorating,” he said. “It’s like when people tell me, ‘My wife and I got married to ‘Wonderful Tonight.’ I mean, from my point of view, ‘Wonderful Tonight’ is a nice little song, but for someone else, it has tremendous significance. It all has to do with what they experienced.”

The Mississippi-born Johnson recorded only a few dozen songs in the 1930s, but became the prototype blues legend when he died at 27 under mysterious circumstances.

Nearly two years ago, Clapton and his band went into the studio to lay some groundwork for a new album. They worked on a few original compositions and some covers, including one Johnson song, “Travelin’ Riverside Blues.”

When Clapton brought a CD of the session’s highlights home, he found that all he wanted to listen to was the Johnson song.

The band returned to the studio last summer, again with the intent to make a conventional album. But Clapton had a little exercise in mind. Every time the band reached an impasse in recording, he’d suggest they play a Johnson song. For fun.

“All the time, I kind of intuitively knew that I was going to make a Robert Johnson album,” he said.

Now or never

For Clapton, it was almost a case of now or never for paying tribute to his childhood idol. He’s turning 60 next year and, he said, “I’m not sure when I’m going to be on the decline.”

One of the reasons it took him so long is that he was unsure of an approach. Do you try to stay true to Johnson’s original recordings or use them as a starting point for new interpretations?

“It has taken me to this stage in my career or my life to be man enough to tackle it,” he said.

He told his band to perform the compositions as if they were in a bar playing an ordinary blues song, and the words were all they knew.

“That way, the album gets to have some different flavors,” he said. “Otherwise, everything would wind up sounding pretty much the same.”

Normally, a record company would recoil in horror when a big star wanted to make a cover album. But Clapton’s history with blues obviously runs deep. When he’s explored it, most notably with the “From the Cradle” album, his fans have responded.

Clapton is preoccupied with two other projects this spring. He’s organizing a three-day guitar festival, planned for June 4-6 in Dallas, to raise money for Crossroads Centre Antigua, the drug and alcohol treatment center he founded in 1997. Clapton is also auctioning off guitars as another fundraiser for the Crossroads Centre.

All-star lineup at festival

Clapton will perform at his own guitar festival, of course, along with Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Brian May, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Vaughan and others.

Clapton has mentioned, during his 2001 “Reptile” tour, that it might be his last extended concert tour. But with the Dallas festival on the horizon, he and his band will hit the road.

“I can’t just do that (the Dallas performance) because I’d no way be able to play well,” he said. “We’ve got to be in pretty good shape. We’ve got to do a tour first just to get ready. We’re touring Europe through March and April to warm up.”

Then, following Dallas, he’ll do a tour of the United States “to kind of wind down.”

The guitar auction will take place on June 24 in Christie’s, the New York auction house. Clapton is donating more than 50 of his own guitars, with other instruments donated by Vai and Pete Townshend.

It includes a cherry red Gibson Clapton bought “with my first real money from the Yardbirds,” that has the case with Cream stamped on it.

“I’ve used it all through my career,” he said. “It’s the first proper electric guitar I ever had. That one is probably the most valuable.”

He’ll hold back a couple of guitars to work with and then build up his collection again.

“You’re talking about people coming out (of the treatment center) with a new life,” he said. “What’s a guitar?”


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the alabama 3 absolutely revere robt johnson, and sampled his 'me and the devil' on 'zero tolerance.' (feel free to ignore my 1-track mind, most everyone else does. ;)

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SG.... I still havent tried any A3 but your persistance in their promotion has made it inevitable that I do, sooner or later!! :)

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  • 7 months later...

I finally remembered to get this but I'm not satisfied. I was expecting more blues stuff but it's more country that i expected

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I finally remembered to get this but I'm not satisfied. I was expecting more blues stuff but it's more country that i expected

Listen to it more, and remember, this is a tribute to an early 20th century bluesman. The roots of blues and country are very much intertwined. I found the album exhilerating because Clapton bridged the gap so well.

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Clapton's work is very good but I wanted a bit more blues stuff but you're right. The albums serves it's purpose

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