Saturday, June 14, 1980

Eric Clapton “Cocaine” charted


J.J. Cale

Writer(s): J.J. Cale (see lyrics here)

Released: September 1976

First Charted: September 1976

Peak: 45 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.75 video, 42.32 streaming


Eric Clapton

Released: November 1977 (B-side)

First Charted: June 14, 1980 (live version)

Peak: 30 US, 36 CB, 35 HR, 1 CL, 3 CN, 57 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK, 0.45 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 108.63 video, 351.12 streaming

Awards (Clapton):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

J.J. Cale was an American singer/songwriter and guitarist who became best known through covers of his songs done by Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Call Me the Breeze”) and Eric Clapton (“Cocaine,” “After Midnight”). Cale’s original version of “Cocaine” was released on his fourth album, Troubadour, in 1976. The song was a #1 hit in New Zealand.

The better-known version, however, was by Eric Clapton. He recorded the song for his 1977 album Slowhand. The album “marked a resurgence of sorts for Clapton, arriving after a string of releases failed to live up to the promise heard on 1974’s 461 Ocean Boulevard.” UCR Clapton’s version was “driven by a relatively laid-back blues beat,” UCR “maintaining the same relaxed vibe as the original.” UCR It “wasn’t so much a lyrically based song as it was a somewhat understated showcase of Clapton’s superior skill with the guitar.” UCR

Clapton has described it as “quite cleverly anti-cocaine.” WK He said, “It’s no good to write a deliberate anti-drug song…because…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 can be seen to be anti.” WK

The song was released as the B-side of “Lay Down Sally” in November 1977. However, a live version of “Cocaine” was released as a single in June 1980 in support of Clapton’s live album Just One Night. All Music Guide’s Richar Gilliam called it one of Clapton’s “most enduringly popular hits.” AMG It is “arguably one of his finest moments, and a staple of his set list decades after its release.” UCR


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First posted 7/31/2022.

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