Sunshine of Your Love
Sunshine of Your Love
One of the defining qualities of heavy metal is guitar riffs: short, memorable, repeating phrases played on a distorted guitar as a foundation for a song. Sunshine of your Love was one of the first hit songs to be built around a guitar riff rather than a chord sequence — although in this case, the riff was originally written on the bass, and the two instrument shadow each for much of the song.
Sunshine of Your Love
Here's a classic song that's interesting because it's been such an influence on generations of guitar players. It's "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream, a song from the band's second album, Disraeli Gears in 1967, and released as a single the following year.
Cream - Disraeli Gears
Cream was one of the first nonorganically created rock supergroups of the 1960s. Music business entrepreneur Robert Stigwood contracted Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker to play as a group, for a term of two years, with an option for a third. Each member had already achieved a degree of fame in their native UK — Clapton with The Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; Bruce and Baker had played together in the Graham Bond Organisation; and Bruce had played briefly with Clapton in the Bluesbreakers and with Manfred Mann. Individually and collectively, they were part of a movement that was reinventing and reinvigorating American blues, electrifying it, fusing it with rock and shipping it back to the U.S., where it wound up making white British rockers far more money than it ever made for Robert Johnson.
According to Clapton biographer Michael Schumacher, after being inspired by a Jimi Hendrix concert in London, Bruce went home and quickly composed the basso ostinato melody, but then struggled to find words that fit. After a frustrating all-night brainstorming session with his frequent collaborator, poet-lyricist Pete Brown, Bruce suddenly got a flash. He grabbed his upright bass, went to the window, and played as he sang, “It’s getting near dawn…”. Clapton later wrote the song's refrain which also yielded the song's title.
"Sunshine of Your Love" is basically a 12 bar blues song, but it's quite unusual in that it's in 8/8 time rather than the usual 4/4. The distinctive bass riff is an 8 beat riff (in other words, it needs 8 beats to complete), and the song is built around it. As with most 12 bar blues songs, the first 8 bars (sometimes it's 10) make up the verse and the last 4 (or 2 in some songs) basically make up what amounts to a chorus, although we look at the full 12 bars as just a verse. The song form looks like this: Intro (4 bars),Verse, Interlude (2 bars), Verse, Solo (over a Verse),Verse, 2 bar Chorus repeat,Outro The song begins with the guitar and bass for the first two bars, then is joined by the drums for the next two. Unlike a common pop song, it doesn't feature a signature hook since the bass/guitar riff line is a hook in itself. The interlude is just 2 bars of the verse, and also does not feature a true hook or melody on top of the song's foundation elements. The end of the final verse features an additional two bars with the vocals of bassist Jack Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton answering each other.
Pete Brown, poet-lyricist
"Sunshine" prefigures the development of metal in two other ways (besides the guitar riff): the stop-start instrumentation during the chorus (“I’ve been waiting so long”), and the dramatic stripping down of complexity. While the blues influence is still very apparent, nothing about the song suggests the jazz background of two thirds of the band. The drum part was based on African tribal rhythms, and unusually emphasises beats 1 and 3 rather than 2 and 4, and the lock-step guitar and bass yield a wide-open texture. Even the vocal melody largely tracks the guitar/bass riff.
Clapton created the guitar tone on the song using his 1964 Gibson SG guitar (the famous "Fool" guitar) with a wah-wah pedal and a Marshall amplifier. The song is renowned among guitarists as perhaps the best example of his legendary late-1960s "woman tone", a thick yet articulate sound that many have tried to emulate. For the solo, Clapton played the opening lines from the pop standard "Blue Moon" (1934), creating a contrast between the sun and the moon.
"Sunshine of Your Love" was the single that broke the band in the United States, eventually rising to #5, and was the first single to chart higher than in the UK. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine named it the 65th greatest song of all time, while in 2009 VH1 called it the 44th best hard rock song of all time.
Jack Bruce died on Oct. 25 at age 71 in England. “Sunshine” is just part of Bruce’s contribution to one of rock’s greatest trios. Clapton credited Bruce — who had a background in jazz before joining Cream — with expanding his and Baker’s musical imaginations, and forging the unique synthesis that one critic described as “essentially a jazz trio playing blues changes with rock muscle.”
Sunshine of Your Love, singel
Cream split in November 1968 at the height of their popularity, with Bruce feeling he had strayed too far from his ideals. Bruce never again reached the commercial heights he did with Cream but his reputation as one of the best bass guitarists in the business grew throughout the subsequent decades.
Cream - Sunshine of your love
It's getting near dawn when lights close their tired eyes I'll soon be with you my love, give you my dawn surprise I'll be with you darling soon I'll be with you when the stars start falling I've been waiting so long To be where I'm going In the sunshine of your love I'm with you my love, the light's shining through on you Yes, I'm with you my love, it's the morning and just we two I'll stay with you darling now I'll stay with you till my seas are dried up I've been waiting so long To be where I'm going In the sunshine of your love I'm with you my love, the light's shining through on you Yes, I'm with you my love, it's the morning and just we two I'll stay with you darling now I'll stay with you till my seas are dried up I've been waiting so long I've been waiting so long I've been waiting so long To be where I'm going In the sunshine of your love
Last Updated (Wednesday, 12 November 2014 16:27)