Album Titles – The Backstories

Cream - Disraeli Gears

Album Titles – The Backstories

Over the years, some of the titles chosen for Eric Clapton’s albums have had an interesting story behind them. A few titles have had personal significance for him. For others, Eric came up with titles based on things that happened in the recording studio or based them on events in his life. Those with a story worth telling are:

Originally, the working title for this landmark album was Cream. Disraeli Gears became the title when the band (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce) and crew were playing a word game and making up phrases like “Elephant Gerald” for “Ella Fitzgerald”. One of the crew changed “derauilleur gears” (used on racing bicycles) to “Disraeli Gears”. “Disraeli” refers to Benjamin Disraeli, who was Prime Minister of England during Queen Victoria’s reign.

The address of the house in Golden Beach, Florida where Eric Clapton and his band lived during the recording of the album at Criteria Studios (now The Hit Factory – Criteria) in Miami. Eric never owned the property at 461 Ocean Boulevard. It was rented for him for several weeks during April and May 1974. The house has also had other famous temporary residents who used it while recording at Criteria. The Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) rented it in late 1974 to record their “comeback” album, Main Course (released 1975). The Eagles lived there while recording Hotel California. Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow also rented the property in the 70s. Since 1978, the five bedroom home has been a private residence.

A contraction of the album’s working title, The Best Guitarist In The World – There’s One In Every Crowd. Eric Clapton once commented: “[It was going to be called] The Best Guitarist In The World – There’s One In Every Crowd. They didn’t approve of that one either. I was the only one who thought it would be a good idea. In fact, I’m not sure whether I could have lived with it. Most people would have taken it the wrong way. They would have thought I was being serious. But I am! I am the best fucking guitarist in the world!!(Laughs)” [From Conversations With Eric Clapton, 1976]

A misquote from “Innocent Times”, a song on the album written by Marcy Levy. The song lyrics are actually “no reason to laugh, more reason to cry.”

An obscure reference to Bob Dylan. Eric Clapton once said that Bob Dylan is very aware of everything that happens while he is on stage, almost as if he has eyes in the back of his head. Additionally, Dylan would turn and face the band if he thought things were not going well during a performance. So, even though the band was behind Dylan, they felt as if he was always facing them onstage.

A jibe at one of Eric Clapton’s friends who was always asking him for “another ticket” to his concerts.

Eric Clapton’s mid-80s reminder to take these two items when leaving the house. (He stopped smoking in the early 1990s).

A quote from the song “Louisiana Blues” by Muddy Waters. The lyric goes, “I’m going to New Orleans, baby, behind the sun.” Eric also used the phrase “behind the sun” in his lyrics of the title track.

The album’s working title was One More Car, One More Rider. However, Eric Clapton retitled it August to celebrate the birth of his son, Conor, in August 1986. The album was actually released in November of that year. Eric resurected the discarded working title for his 2001 live album.

A reference to the record-breaking number of nights Eric Clapton performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall in February and March 1991. (Note: the double album also includes performances from his 1990 18-night run.)

A line from a poem that Eric Clapton wrote during the recording of the album: “All along this path I tread / My heart betrays my weary head / With nothing but my love to save / From the cradle to the grave.” Eric revealed: “It was one of those things, you wake up in the middle of the night and run downstairs to write it down. I didn’t know what it meant. And I thought, well, I would abbreviate it, the front “From The Cradle”, for the title. What it means, I think, is that this music I’m making here has been my motivation. It’s the thing I’ve turned to, the thing that has given me inspiration and relief, in all of the trials and tribulations of my life. I’ve always had this incredibly secure place to go with that, with the blues. And this is the first testament to that, that I’ve ever made really, on my own. And it’s quite scary but in the same time, you know, it’s about time too. It’s long overdue.”

The title of this 1998 album is a follow-up to the title of Eric’s previous studio album of all-new studio material, Journeyman (1989). Eric said at the time, “Well, it’s kind of – I suppose – there’s a track on the album called “Pilgrim” which came first. And when I came to title the album I used that track as a key point to go from, because I thought it was a good way of actually following the thread from Journeyman which was the same kind of meaning, really. Just looking at my life as a musician and a lot of other respects. It is autobiographical. And I see myself as kind of being like a lone guy on a quest.” [From Larry King Live / CNN, February 1998]

Eric Clapton wrote in the booklet for the CD: “Where I come from, the word ‘reptile’ is a term of endearment, used in much the same way as ‘toe rag’ or ‘moosh.’ It is used sparingly and with greatest respect, it’s not an insult, it’s a sign of recognition… In my recollection the first person ever to use the word in reference to me was Charlie Cumberland: ‘Here comes the reptile that plays the banjo.’ And coming from Charlie, that was indeed a compliment, for Charlie is, himself, a very fine example of a ‘reptile’…”

Eric Clapton’s double live CD and DVD from his 2001 World Tour used the original working title from his 1986 studio recording, August. In interviews to promote it in 2001, Eric said, “[One More Car, One More Rider] harks back to my youth when I just loved fun fairs. Actually, I still do love fun fairs. But we had one in the town where I come from, which used to visit twice, sometimes three times a year. In the summer, we’d always go. The fair was owned by a family called the Bensons and the mum ran the bumper cars. At the end of the evening, the rides would get shorter and shorter and shorter and she would say through this really scratchy microphone, ‘One more car, one more ride. One more car, one more ride.’ Because I think this will probably be my last album, my last live album, anyway, it made me realize it’s like the end of the evening, in a way, I’m saying, ‘one more car, one more ride.’ It’s the last go-round, you see.” [Although Eric has yet to release a new solo live CD and DVD, he has appeared in several – Cream Royal Albert Hall, both of his Crossroads Guitar Festivals, and Clapton / Winwood Live from Madison Square Garden].

Its origins come from Eric being so impressed with David Bowie’s recent single release, “Where Are We Now”, that he sent a message, thanking Bowie for such a beautiful song. Bowie replied appreciatively, referring to Eric as “Old Sock”, whereupon Eric sought Bowie’s blessing to use that as his album title.

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