So I won’t bore you with easy knocks on the guy’s questionable status as a blues guitarist, his singing-through-his-beard techniques, the Michelob version of “After Midnight”, and so forth. I’ve always felt the same way about Clapton’s music from his time in The Yardbirds through his Slowhand era: it’s occasionally moving, it’s just as often unintentionally funny in a yet-musically bearable way, and it’s usually about as mediocre as ’70s rock got. One could debate whether Clapton is “better” or “worse” than Seger, but what’s the point? I mean, it’s not like we’re trying to put ZZ Top and George Thorogood in proper perspective.
The autobiography is not that big on musical content, which was disappointing, especially in the earlier musical chapters, when I wanted anecdotes on the making of a particular Yardbirds or Cream record. Clapton doesn’t always pause to note exactly what his feelings were about various musical endeavors, but through all his band years he gives off a general vibe of “Although the band wasn’t everything I’d hoped to have out of music, it did afford me the opportunity to rework my Freddy King guitar solos.”
The focus on being a “real blues musician” leads to much musical disappointment. In describing his feelings toward the end of his stint with The Yardbirds he says, “The truth is, I was taking myself far too seriously and becoming very critical and judgmental of anybody in music who wasn’t playing just pure blues.” Shortly thereafter he bums out over the recording of “For Your Love” and is, as he puts it, “invited” to resign. He’s also very clear about this attitude when recounting his time with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. It was around this point in the book that the picture of this fascinating-if-bland man began to emerge.