Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Forever Man" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  2244
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  64
Peak:  26
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Clapton's first album after moving over to Warner Bros. was 1983's Money and Cigarettes. Although it would be a gold album that featured the #18 Pop/#6 AC hit "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart," the label though it under-performed, so they kept a close watch on his next effort, Behind the Sun. For this album, Clapton collaborated with Phil Collins, who would serve as both a musician and a co-producer (and also a co-writer on one song). At the time, Clapton's marriage was unraveling and that led to him writing some darker songs that weren't necessarily all that commercial. When the label heard the finished product, they were not thrilled. They felt it had no songs that could be promoted commercially and rejected the album. To rectify the situation, Warner suggested Clapton record three new tunes that were written by songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams. Clapton thought the songs were good and agreed to record them. This first single from the album was one of those new tracks. It struck the right chord at Rock radio and it became Clapton's second #1 on that chart. It didn't do as well at Pop where it faltered just inside the Top 30. However, the Rock hit along with Phil Collins' involvement helped the album reach platinum sales, which was an improvement over Clapton's previous LP.

ReduxReview:  There are rare cases where I think label intervention is justified. Usually they muck things up. In this case, I believe they made the right decision. Although long-time Clapton fans were probably not happy he was being pushed in a more commercial direction, the album was kind of a downer and there was nothing much that could be used to promote it on the radio So with his last effort not doing all that well, if the LP had been released as-is, the results most likely would have been worse. It was surprising that the original version of the album had nothing commercial on it because with Phil Collins on board I figured he would bring along a couple solid pop tunes for Clapton, yet he did not. Luckily, this track came along and it gave a boost to the album. I wasn't a fan of the song, but it had some solid production and, as usual, great guitar work from Clapton.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Jerry Lynn Williams. Williams had been playing guitar backing several artists since he was a teen. In the late 60s, he was in a band called High Mountain that got an album out on Columbia in 1970 (although due to legal issues with the name, it was reissued with a new title and listed as by The Jerry Williams Group). Nothing came from the album, but it did get a deal for Williams to do his own solo album, which came out in '72. Again, no one really paid attention. A second album for Warner Bros. that was due in '79 ended up shelved. As a recording artist, Williams was just not having any luck. His career would take a turn for the better when a song from his second album got picked up by Delbert McClinton. McClinton recorded the song "Giving It Up for Your Love" and turned it into a #8 Pop hit in 1980. It helped establish Williams as a songwriter and more work would follow. In addition to the three songs he gave to Clapton, Williams wrote tunes for Bonnie Raitt (included on her Grammy-winning Nick of Time album), the Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton,  Bobby Womack, and many others.



  1. Commercial, yes, but it still has more of a bite than a lot of his late 70's-80's songs. And it flows along nicely. It also reminds me of Mason Ruffner. I wonder what you think of him, but I'm not sure if any of his songs made the Hot 100 in the 80's.

    1. Unfortunately, Ruffner never hit the Pop chart. He did reach the Rock chart twice with "Gypsy Blood" getting to #11. I wasn't aware of him at the time, but learned of him later. He kind of had a cult following. It's been a long while since I have listened to him, but I remember liking his style. Kind of Nick Lowe-ish in a way crossed with the blues side of Clapton, if I remember right. I'll have to revisit.