After opening my presents on Christmas morning my wife confessed to a gift she nearly bought me. The confession was a closing to an aside she had made a couple of weeks earlier, when she mentioned having consulted with Townsman Andyr on a possible gift for me. For the next couple of weeks I tried to imagine what she might have discussed with him and what his advice would have been. I’d browse lists of box sets and new rock bios, hoping that my friend would not steer her wrong. Little did I know, as my wife confessed that morning, that it was a tongue-in-cheek gift she had in mind: the Eric Clapton autobiography, Clapton. Would you believe my oldest friend in the world suggested that she not play into our typical “slave to humor” dynamic? (It’s cool, though, 35 years of friendship do not evaporate over one such bum suggestion.) Would you believe that later than day another family member, with no knowledge of my wife’s prior consideration, gave me the book as a Christmas gift?
I tore through this autobiography in a week’s time. Not because I’m a big fan of Eric Clapton but because, as I waded through the early chapters, I was fascinated at the sober, straightforward self-portrait of a man that was developing. As boring and unsatisfying as the autobiography could be – much like the man’s music – the story was refreshing in its departure from the typical rock star story of Rise and Fall and Rebirth With the Help of a Strong Woman. Ralph Fiennes can hold off on those guitar lessons. This autobiography may be second to Bob Dylan’s excellent Chronicles, Vol. 1 on the Hollywood Screenwriters Guild’s “Pass” list.