Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pssst: Here's one for the gypsy in you

Eric Clapton has only had one No. 1 song, and it hit the top spot on this day in 1974.

Hard to believe? Hard to believe that, given his talent and tenure in the business, Clapton's only No. 1 song was a Bob Marley cover. In fact, "I Shot the Sheriff'' probably was responsible for helping usher Marley's music into the mainstream -- where it surely deserved to be.

Clapton had been battling heroin addiction before setting out to record "461 Ocean Boulevard.'' It is a beautiful, lazy, wistful album full of bluesy covers, opening with the traditional "Motherless Children'' and including Elmore James' "I Can't Hold Out'' and Robert Johnson's "Steady Rollin' Man.'' South Florida session guitarist George Terry helps set the tone with "Mainline Florida'' -- the album's closing song.

Not to diminish Clapton's contributions, which are significant. "Please Be With Me'' is the loneliest love song you'll ever need to hear:

I sit here lying in my bed
Wondering what it was I said
That made me think I'd lost my head
When I knew I'd lost my heart instead

So won't you please read my signs, be a gypsy
Tell me what I hope to find deep within me
Because you can find my mind, please be with me

Anybody who's had a tour of life duty in Florida -- especially along the Miami coastline where Clapton was holed up at the time -- will find room for this in the collection. Other than Jimmy Buffett's adventures in Key West, nothing speaks to the Florida inside us like "461 Ocean Boulevard.''

It's a muted sunrise through patchy clouds and light ocean waves lapping at the shoreline. It's music that leaves us unsure exactly why we wound up here, but profoundly grateful for the experience.

It's Personal Six String Sanctuary Tout (PSSST) No. 13.


  1. The whole Jimmy Buffett thing is unfortunate, but Florida has more than atoned with the Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, Gram Parsons, and Charlie Pickett.

  2. Cannot stand Jimmy Buffet. I will, however, add a Eric Clapton station to my Internet radio right now. And coincidentally, said radio just started "In My Hour of Darkness," my favorite Gram Parsons song. Nice.

  3. Y'all need to get off your high horses and leave ol' Jimmy Buffett alone.
    It's not his fault people love his schtick and somewhat mediocre talent. What would you do in his shoes?
    Besides, Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season pegs Florida just right.
    And c'mon, admit it ... don't you always see a little bit of yourself in A Pirate Looks at 40?

    Made enough money to buy Miami but i pissed it away so fast, never meant to last, never meant to last

  4. I must support the Master, who is not asking anyone to sidle up to the bar for a "Cheeseburger in Paradise.'' He only asks you to consider some of the most memorable lines ever written about being drunk in Key West. But maybe you had to be there. The Parrotheads don't make this easy, any more than the Deadheads made it easy to follow Jerry Garcia.

  5. I've written better lines about drinking in Key West. :)

  6. Jimmy Buffett's last five albums sucked. The run is over. But A1A is one of the best albums about Florida ever recorded. So you gotta give him that.

  7. Another great Florida album:
    Mofro's Lochloosa, which is all about the OTHER Florida, the one where crackers like myself grew up, a long way from the beach and margaritas and fancy hotels.

    Lyrics from the title cut:
    Home sick but it's alright
    Lochloosa is on my mind
    She's on my mind
    I swear it s ten thousand degrees in the shade
    Lord have mercy knows how much I love it
    Every mosquito every rattlesnake
    Every cane break everything
    Every alligator every blackwater swamp
    Every freshwater spring everything
    All we need is one more damn developer
    Tearing her heart out
    All we need is one more Mickey Mouse
    Another golf course another country club
    Another gated community
    Lord I need her
    Lord I need her
    And she's slipping away
    If my grandfather could see her now
    He'd lay down and die
    Cause every minute every second every hour
    Every day Lord she's slipping away
    Home sick but it's alright
    Lochloosa is on my mind
    She's on my mind

  8. I've never been a huge Buffett fan. His better songs are great when you're in the right place or mood.
    But I've never understood the Buffett-bashing. He's just a guy having fun, pretty darn inncuous and hardly worthy of contempt, I'd say.
    Hate the radio stations that overplay his stuff, and I get that (it took me a quarter-century to stop hating "Maggie May"). Hate his sometimes-obnoxious mega-fans, and I get that too (I hate the Yankees and Notre Dame football as much because of their fans as for their actual teams.)
    But projecting that onto Buffett himself seems kinda misguided.


  9. Hey, wasn't this supposed to be about Clapton? He's obviously no Florida native (neither is Buffett, BTW) but his best stuff has been reworking early American blues legends and this is a good example of it. Probably not for people who creamed over Cream, tho.

  10. But what a great opportunity to opine on Buffett. I was never a huge fan, but his concerts are quite the party -- if you can get there. A few too many margaritas for pre-show, and my friend plowed into the back end of a clunker on the way. It got uglier before it got better.
    But when we were heading through New Orleans on the move to Florida, we had a toast in Jimmy Buffett's digs to bygones and future friendship -- and flipflops in Florida...

  11. My last Buffett concert was in 1986 at the Sun Dome - the Parrotheads were in their infancy then, and hardly a distraction - and it was a blast.
    Of course, that may have been because I was in the company of the lovely Fran Martorano ... but that's another story.