Eric Clapton is one of the best guitar players in the world. He has such a rich music career behind him, and he collaborated with many incredible artists. Clapton started his musical journey in the sixties, and quickly became a legend, earning himself a title of God.
Over the years he became one of the most influential players ever, and many guitarists were inspired by his playing. From Eddie Van Halen to Mark Knopfler. The simplicity of his playing combined with the mind-blowing technique became an important part of rock history.
He is also the only person ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times!
Eric Clapton’s Acoustic Songs
To make things easier for you, I cover the acoustic guitars first and talk about some of his most popular songs you might know. Throughout his career, he experimented with various music genres, and here you will find some of the examples of his acoustic playing.
Tears In Heaven
Tears in Heaven is one of the most emotional songs you can find. It was written in 1991 by Clapton and Will Jennings, and it was about the death of Clapton’s son Conor. The song originally appeared in the movie Rush, and he played it for the first time in front of the audience in MTV’s Unplugged in 1992.
Over the years, Tears in Heaven became one of Clapton’s most recognizable songs on acoustic guitar. If you want to learn to play it, you might need a bit of practice, and the song might be too challenging for beginner players.
Change The World
Another song from the movie soundtrack came in 1996. This time, it was for the movie Phenomenon, and its name is Change the World. The song was credited to Eric Clapton and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. It was originally written by Tommy Sims, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Gordon Kennedy.
In an interview, Clapton explained how the first two notes he plays are actually from Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy. While the song might sound like a pop song, it has hints of blues in it. The song received numerous awards and Clapton often played it on live shows.
One of the most famous jazz standards, Autumn Leaves, appeared on the album from 2010 called simply – Clapton. The original lyrics of the song were written by Jacques Prévert, and naturally, it’s in French. Johnny Mercer later did an English version of the song, and the rest quickly became history.
Clapton’s take on the song is beautiful, emotional, and it is undoubtedly among the top covers you can find. Autumn Leaves starts on the acoustic guitar, and the final guitar solo is on the electric.
Can’t Find My Way Home
In 1969 a group called Blind Faith was founded. Members of the group were Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Jack Green. The group lasted for just one year, and it was one of the first supergroups ever.
The song Can’t Find My Way Home was written by legendary Steve Winwood (from Traffic), and it was a real delight when it came out. Clapton’s acoustic guitar, combined with Baker’s innovative precautions, and Winwood’s incredible singing quickly became a hit. Clapton and Winwood joined for a tour in 2010 when they played the whole repertoire from the Blind Faith era.
I Am Yours
After Clapton and Winwood went separate ways, Clapton founded a new group – Derek and the Dominos. Similarly to Blind Faith, it released only one album, but it became a lot more popular. One of the reasons is that it is the record that offers one of Clapton’s most famous songs.
Layla and Other Assorted Love songs is the album he wrote for Patty Smith who was a girlfriend of George Harrison. The name of the album and the song was inspired by Nizami Ganjavi and his poem Layla and Majnun, and he is credited as the writer of I Am Yours.
Please Be With Me
The second studio album in his solo career is 461 Ocean Boulevard. It brought us many great hits, and he often played some of the songs live. Please Be with Me is a song written by Charles Scott Boyer, and it was originally recorded by Cowboy with Duane Allman as a guest musician.
It is a nice and simple song to play, that still sounds incredibly good. So you probably won’t have much trouble learning how to play it.
Sign Language is a song from 1976 and it was released on No Reason to Cry. The song was written by Bob Dylan, and he signs it along with Eric on the record. Moreover, Robbie Robertson plays the electric guitar which adds a special flavor to it.
The song is previously unreleased by Dylan, and he re-recorded it with Clapton for his fourth album.
Hello Old Friend
Hello Old Friend is the first single from No Reason to Cry. It is written by Eric Clapton, and it falls into the country-rock genre. It is also described as one of the best tracks of the record and it soon reached 24th position on the Billboard Hot 100.
It was also his third single that managed to reach the top 40 in the United States. It features slide guitar, but the acoustic part of the song is quite easy to learn.
Pretty Girl is the song from Eric’s eight solo album called Money and Cigarettes. It is also the first album he recorded after his rehabilitation. It was released in 1983 and reached moderate success.
Interestingly, Clapton’s band for this album was exceptional and we can hear Ry Cooder, Albert Lee, Donald Duck Dunn, Roger Hawkins, and many more legends. The producer of the album was Tom Dowd who worked with Eric on the Layla album.
Clapton has always been known as a blues guitarist, but From the Cradle is the first time he tried to record an all-blues album. It offers some incredible covers from Muddy Waters, Freddy King, Otis Rush, and other blues players.
Driftin’ is a blues standard, and it’s played on acoustic guitar. It was written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, and you probably heard a couple of versions of this standard already. Driftin’ Blues is a great way to improve your technique and master one of the famous blues standards.
Circus Left Town
Circus Left Town is a ballad written by Clapton. It is a song telling about the last day he spent with his son before the tragic incident. It was originally written in 1992, and he even played it in MTV’s Unplugged. The Circus wasn’t a part of the initial release but it was added to the expanded version of the album.
Eric decided to re-record the song and release it as a single (and as a part of Pilgrim album) in 1998.
In 2001, Clapton released his fourteenth solo album called Reptile. One of the songs from the album is Broken Down written by Simone Climie and Dennis Morgan. The entire Reptile record is a perfect blend of pop and blues, and it offers many great tracks.
Broken Down is mostly on the acoustic guitar, and even the solo is on the acoustic guitar.
They’re Red Hot
They’re Red Hot was written and originally recorded by Rober Johnson in 1936. Clapton dedicated his fifteenth album to Robert Johnson and named it Me and Mr. Johnson. The entirety of the record consists of songs written by the legendary Delta blues guitarist.
It is a fast-paced song on the acoustic guitar, and you might need a bit of practice before you can play it flawlessly.
Love In Vain
Another song from Me and Mr Johnson is Love in Vain. While Rober Johnson recorded all of his songs on the acoustic guitar, Clapton made a few changes and added more instruments. Here, you can check out the acoustic version of Love in Vain, that’s rather similar to the original.
It is one of the most famous songs by Robert Johson, and it has had numerous covers since it’s original release in 1939.
The last song on Clapton’s seventeenth solo album has the same name as the album – Back Home. It was released in 2005 and is the first album since Reptile that offered original material.
Back Home is written by Clapton. The song has an interesting fingerpicking pattern, and it is a lovely song to learn.
Still Got The Blues
Still Got the Blues is probably the most famous song by Gary Moore. He was an incredible guitar player, and this is Clapton’s way of paying him respect. The song was released on the Old Sock album in 2013, two years after Gary Moore’s death.
It is an incredible song on the acoustic guitar, with Steve Winwood on Hammond B3 organ. Near the end of the song, there is a second solo on the electric guitar that perfectly fits this version.
Catch The Blues
Catch the Blues is written by Clapton and it was released in 2016 on his twentieth album I Still Do. The song has a slower tempo and it features a combination of acoustic and slide guitar in the background.
I Still Do raised a lot of questions due to the appearance of Angelo Mysterioso who played the track I Will Be There. Clapton and his team refused to comment on the person’s identity but the same name appeared a year later on Ed Sheeran’s album ÷, suggesting a collaboration between the two.
Signe is an instrumental written by Eric Clapton and it served as an intro to his MTV Unplugged show in 1992. Two main instruments are acoustic guitars played by Clapton and Andy Fairweather Low.
The song is an exciting piece that offers a beautiful fingerpicking pattern you might want to learn.
The next song on the list is Hey Hey written by Big Bill Broonzy. Big Bill Broonzy released this song in 1951, and Clapton covered it on his MTV Unplugged. The song is a blues tune that offers Broonzy’s complex fingerpicking technique.
Alberta is a traditional 12-bar blues song. Originally, the name of the song is Corrine, Corrina, and it was first recorded by Bo Carter in 1928. Over the years, many artists did their version of the song including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Cab Calloway, and many others.
Clapton is one of the musicians that sing this song “Alberta, Alberta” instead of the original title.
Eric Clapton’s Electric Songs
Many people associate Clapton with electric guitar, and the second part of the list is dedicated to his electric songs. I will try to cover the majority of his career, and you will probably know a lot of songs from the list.
Probably the most famous song by this English guitarist is Layla. The song was a part of the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album in 1970, and it was written by Clapton and Jim Gordon. The song was recorded by Derek and the Dominos, and it quickly became a hit.
Not only does the audience love the song, and Clapton played it on almost every show, but it is also recognized as one of the best songs in the history of music. If you plan on learning to play the song, you should know that there are six guitar tracks on the original recording.
While many people associate the song Cocaine with Clapton, it is in fact written by J.J. Cale in 1976. Clapton released his cover a year later, and it became an instant hit. The most exciting part of the song is the solo that’s often a highlight of his live performances.
The main riff is quite easy to play and it’s only two chords. However, the main trick is learning to improvise the solo to make the song sound incredible.
The song White Room was written by Jack Bruce and released by Cream in 1968. Jack Bruce sang the song on the original recording, and Clapton played overdubbed guitars. White Room quickly became a hit and it’s one of the songs that Clapton continued to perform during his solo career.
It is also one of the songs that managed to end up on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Sunshine Of Your Love
While I’m on the Cream era, it would be strange not to mention Sunshine of Your Love. The song was written by Bruce and Clapton, and it was recorded in 1967 for the Disraeli Gears album.
It is one of the first experiences with psychedelic music, and the riff found its place in numerous lists in the years to come. Clapton stated that the song was dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.
I Shot The Sheriff
The song I Shot the Sheriff was written and recorded by Bob Marley in 1973. Clapton did his version a year later for his 461 Ocean Boulevard album, and it became an instant hit. It opened a door to reggae music and introduced it to the rest of the world.
But the main thing for every guitar lover out there is any live version with an incredible solo in the end.
Strange Brew is one of the first songs that feature Clapton on vocals instead of Jack Bruce. It was a mixture of the pop grove with psychedelic rock. Interestingly, Clapton did the video for Strange Brew while suffering from a toothache, which is more than obvious when you look at the video.
The song is recognizable due to Clapton’s famous guitar tone, and his Gibson SG.
Forever Man was written by Jerry Lynn Williams for Clapton’s ninth solo album Behind the Sun. The song easily reached number one on Billboard Top Rock Tracks, becoming his second single ever to land in the first place.
It is also Clapton’s first music video ever. If you like this version, just know that the original song is in D tuning.
Eric Clapton and Mick Jones wrote the song together, and it appeared on the album Journeyman. It also features Phil Collins on drums, and it was released in 1990. It has a great riff at the beginning, with a wah pedal.
Of course, the most exciting part for guitar players out there is probably the solo at the end of the song.
Old Love is the song co-written by Robert Cray, and it is also featured on the Journeyman album. While it is not as popular as some other songs, it still found its place in live shows throughout the years.
The song is fun to play, and it gives you a chance to improvise during the solo section, which can be quite fun. Old Love is known for Clapton’s incredible solos and the opportunity to “get loose” during the show.
Have You Ever Loved A Woman
Have You Ever Loved a Woman is a song performed by Freddie King and written by Billy Myles in 1960. Over the years, Clapton performed this song on live shows and he did his version for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
It is a slow blues song, and learning the “skeleton” of the song is quite simple. However, the main charm of the song is in the improvisation in between.
The Thrill Is Gone
It is a slow blues song in a minor key written by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell. However, the song became a major hit for (and an important part of) B.B. King. After his cover, it quickly became a blues standard, and one of the most famous blues songs in history.
Clapton and B.B. King played this song together numerous times, and they even recorded a version together for their album Riding With the King.
Had To Cry Today
Had to Cry Today was written by Steve Windwood, and released on the Blind Faith album. It features a riff at the beginning and Winwood’s incredible vocals. The song was nearly forgotten for quite a while until Clapton and Winwood started playing again in 2010.
It’s fun to play, not too complex, and it really sounds great.
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
Another excellent track from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is written by Clapton and Bobby Whitlock. Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? has a fast tempo, but probably the most exciting part is the solo.
Throughout the song, Duane Allman and Clapton keep playing together, and it sounds like a dream. It’s not often that you see this kind of collaboration between two legends, and it is so good.
Double Trouble was written by Otis Rush in 1958, and Clapton loves playing this song live. But interestingly, the song inspired Stevie Ray Vaughan as well, and he named his band after the song.
The song has a slow tempo, 4/4 time, and it’s in the key of D minor. It’s quite simple, but the challenging part is playing it with emotion and passion.
Run is one of the tracks from the tenth album – August. The album is primarily produced by Phil Collins, and it was released in 1986. The song was written by Lamont Dozier, and it was released as a single.
Clapton played the song during the promo tour, and it is an exciting song to learn.
Tearing Us Apart
Another song from the August, produced by Phil Collins is Tearing Us Apart. The song is a duet with Tina Turner, and Clapton often played it on his live shows during the eighties and nineties. One of the most recognizable performances is, of course, with Tina Turner, and the rest of the band included Phil Collins, Mark Knopfler, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, and Paul McCartney.
I Can’t Stand It
I Can’t Stand It is the first single from Clapton’s Another Ticket album. It was released in 1981, and it was written by Clapton. Critics described the song as one of Clapton’s biggest hits in the eighties.
The song is not too flashy, and there are no solos. For some reason, it is one of the most underrated Clapton’s songs.
Wanna Make Love To You
Wanna Make Love To You is a song written by Jerry Lynn Williams, and it was released in Clapton’s box set Crossroads in 1988. It is his most successful boxed set, and it covers the majority of his career up until 1988.
The song was written for the compilation, and it never became as popular as his other hits, but it is so much fun to play.
Five Long Years
Five Long Years was written by Eddie Boyd in 1952, and Clapton covered it for his album From the Cradle in 1994. Eddie Boyd was a pianist, and the song quickly became a blues standard. Naturally, Clapton performs the song on the electric guitar, and he often played it live.
The most exciting part of the song is, of course, Eric’s technique and incredible solos.
Little Queen Of Spades
The final entry on the list is reserved for another great song by Robert Johnson. Johnson recorded the song in 1938, and Clapton did his cover for Me and Mr. Johnson album. Unlike the original version, Clapton did the cover on his electric guitar.
He also played it quite often live, especially after the release of the album. The song is similar to blues standards, and there is a lot of improvisation between the bars.
Eric Clapton has been active since 1962, and he recorded so many great songs. The hardest part of the list was picking just forty songs to mention, and there are so many songs that I have failed to mention.
However, the list will give you a nice insight into his career, and I tried adding a bit of each era and from every album. This way, you will have an easier time finding something you enjoy. If you like a specific song, just check out the rest of the album and hopefully you will find more.
Eric Clapton has been one of the most influential guitarists in the history of music, and there are so many players that bought their first guitar thanks to him and his music. I know I am one.
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