Give Eric Clapton a guitar, and old slowhand has no fear. But it's another thing entirely when the rock legend has to sing.
"I hate my singing. I don't like the way I sing," Clapton recently told Mojo. "It all sounds like I'm 16 years old from Surbiton. I do my best to try and feel it. You know, when I watch Ray Charles sing, I think, That's it, that's how it's done.' He remembers thousands of songs and he sings them all as if they're the most important song he knows. He does it from the bottom of his heart, every time, every song. And that's, that's the inspiration. That's my influence. But I'm imbued with so much self-doubt about my singing, that it's very difficult for me to get to that freedom that those kinds of singers have."
For his forthcoming album, Clapton, the blues-rocker has teamed up with Allen Toussaint, Sheryl Crow and Wynton Marsalis. For his version of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean" on the studio album (his first in five years), Clapton said he was inspired by frequent collaborator J.J. Cale.
"That's almost like I'm not having to try to sing. I can sing very quietly and it's going to be O.K.," he said. "I learned that from J.J. See, you can have Ray Charles at one end of the spectrum, who can do all kinds of things with the voice, and go up and down in octaves and registers. And, you've got J.J. at the other, who creates exactly the same amount of emotional capacity in a very minimal way. And he's still just as riveting to listen to. So there are different ways to do it."
Clapton will be released on September 28.
Thanks for the report to Bryan Wawzenek, Gibson.com