Eric Clapton's 10 best songs ever, ranked

27 December 2021, 22:02 | Updated: 28 December 2021, 00:37

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Eric Clapton is one of the world's most celebrated guitarists and rock musicians.

Not only was he member of iconic bands The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos, but he has also sustained a highly successful solo career, selling over 130 million records worldwide.

Here, we've picked out just a handful of his greatest ever solo songs that would make the perfect Eric Clapton mixtape:

  1. I Get Lost (acoustic version)

    Main Title / (I) Get Lost

    Eric composed this song for the soundtrack of the Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer movie The Story of Us.

    While he released a dance-pop version of this song as a single, he also recorded this acoustic version for its use at the beginning of the movie. The song tells the story of a man, who is longing for his partner after a massive argument.

  2. Change the World

    Eric Clapton - Change The World (Live Video) | Warner Vault

    Country artist Wynonna Judd first recorded this song in 1996.

    In the same year, Eric Clapton recorded a cover version for the film Phenomenon. His version topped the Canada charts and won eight awards, including three Grammys.

  3. Pretending

    Eric Clapton - "Pretending" [Official Music Video]

    Eric recorded this track as the first song on his Journeyman album in 1989, and it became a live favourite of his.

    He has said in interviews that the idea for the music video was based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

  4. My Father's Eyes

    Eric Clapton - My Father's Eyes (Official Music Video) | Warner Vault

    Taken from his 1998 album Pilgrim, this song is inspired by how Clapton never met his father, who died in 1985.

    Describing how he wishes he knew his dad, it also refers to his son Conor.

    "In it I tried to describe the parallel between looking in the eyes of my son, and the eyes of the father that I never met, through the chain of our blood", he later said in his autobiography.

  5. Cocaine

    Eric Clapton - Cocaine (Slowhand At 70 Live At The Royal Albert Hall)

    Originally by JJ Cale, this bluesy rock track was made famous when Eric Clapton scored a hit with a cover version from his Slowhand album.

    Speaking about the song, Eric said: "It's no good to write a deliberate anti-drug song and hope that it will catch. Because the general thing is that people will be upset by that. It would disturb them to have someone else shoving something down their throat.

    "So the best thing to do is offer something that seems ambiguous—that on study or on reflection actually can be seen to be 'anti'—which the song "Cocaine" is actually an anti-cocaine song."

  6. Tears in Heaven

    Eric Clapton - Tears In Heaven (Official Video)

    While Eric co-wrote this song for the 1991 movie Rush, it was also inspired by the tragic death of his young son Conor.

    His four-year-old son fell from a window of a 53rd-floor New York apartment owned by his mother's friend. Clapton arrived at the scene shortly after the accident.

    Eric stopped playing the song in 2004, saying: "I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them. They're kind of gone and I really don't want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now. They probably just need a rest and maybe I'll introduce them for a much more detached point of view."

  7. Behind the Mask

    ERIC CLAPTON - "Behind The Mask" (HD) 1987

    Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra first recorded this song in 1979, before Michael Jackson added lyrics in the early 1980s.

    Jackson’s keyboardist Greg Phillinganes released this new version in 1985, before Eric covered it a year later.

    Phillinganes played keyboards on this version, as well as singing backing vocals. It wasn’t until Jackson’s posthumous album Michael that his own version was released. It was originally written for Thriller, but was left off due to a royalties dispute with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s team.

  8. I Shot the Sheriff

    Eric Clapton (Live 1977) I Shot The Sheriff.mpg

    Bob Marley and the Wailers first released this reggae classic in 1973, and tells the point of view of a narrator who admits to having killed the corrupt local sheriff, but is also falsely accused of having killed the deputy.

    A year later, Eric released a rock-tinged cover version, and it became an even bigger hit than the original.

  9. Layla (Unplugged)

    Eric Clapton Layla Unplugged 7 14

    This was one of the most iconic rock songs of the early 1970s for Eric's band Derek and the Dominos, and was inspired by a love story from the 7th-century Arabia, and later inspired The Story of Layla and Majnun by 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi.

    Eric re-recorded it in 1992 for his live Unplugged show and album. He said of the new 'jazzy' version: "I have done it the same all these years and never ever considered trying to revamp it."

  10. Wonderful Tonight

    Eric Clapton Wonderful Tonight Live greatest version

    Released on his 1977 album Slowhand, Eric Clapton wrote this song for his then-girlfriend Pattie Boyd (who divorced friend George Harrison in the same year).

    He penned it while waiting for her to get ready to go to Paul and Linda McCartney's annual Buddy Holly party.

    Boyd later said: "For years it tore at me. To have inspired Eric, and George before him, to write such music was so flattering. 'Wonderful Tonight' was the most poignant reminder of all that was good in our relationship, and when things went wrong it was torture to hear it."

    The couple married two years later, but were divorced by 1989.