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No. 43: Eric Clapton, ‘Cocaine’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

Eric Clapton

Approximately one year following the release of JJ Cale’s 1976 record ‘Troubadour,’ Eric Clapton introduced Cale’s song ‘Cocaine’ to a much wider audience when he included the track on his album ‘Slowhand,’ released in November 1977.

‘Slowhand’ marked a resurgence of sorts for Clapton, coming on the heels of a string of releases that had ultimately failed to live up to the promise heard on his 1974 opus ‘461 Ocean Boulevard.’ Driven by a relatively laid-back blues beat, ‘Cocaine’ wasn’t so much a lyrically-based song as it was a somewhat understated showcase of Clapton’s superior skill with the guitar.

Although Clapton’s version of  ‘Coacine’ runs approximately 53 seconds longer than Cale’s, Clapton’s treatment of the track is otherwise faithful, maintaining the same relaxed vibe of the original.

Given his ability on the guitar, it should not be terribly surprising to anyone that Clapton chose to showcase his chops and in turn extend the song somewhat.

‘Cocaine’ would not be Clapton’s biggest hit by any means, only reaching the No. 30 position on the Billboard singles charts. Regardless, the song stands proud on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list as arguably one of his finest moments and a staple of his set list more than 35 years after its release.

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Watch Eric Clapton Perform ‘Cocaine’

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