“Sunshine of Your Love”: Recall Cream’s Biggest Hit
Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce are probably not unknown to you as solo artists. What you might not remember is that, early in their careers, the three names came together to form one of the most iconic super groups ever. Together, they were the Cream, a band from the 1960’s, responsible, one can argue, for the redefinition of the music of their times. Today, we speak about “Sunshine of Your Love”, one of Cream’s biggest hits.
The gold selling track is one of the most recognizable songs of the group – if not the most. Notably known by its “chunky riffs” and “fiery guitar solos”, the band stood out as a symbol of their generation. These words are not ours: they’re from Rolling Stone Magazine, the same publication that decided to rank Cream at the 67th position of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Later in this blog post, we’ll explore Cream’s career, as well as their contribution to the history of music. Right now, we invite you to hear the song that left its mark, being among the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ladies and gentlemen, press the play button and go back in time with “Sunshine of Your Love”.
“It’s getting near dawn, when the lights close their tired eyes”. The first two verses of “Sunshine of Your Love” take us to the first hours of the morning, when the street lights turn off and life starts.
The interpretation of the song is quite subjective, being wide enough to touch anyone who has ever been in love. By expressing the desire to be with the loved one, the song is filled with the expectation of someone that has been “waiting for so long”. Finally, he gets to be with his girlfriend and, while he is, it is like the “light is shining through” on him. The lyrics continue with the promise that he will stay with her until his “seas are dried up”. So, you see, “Sunshine of Your Love” is kind of a rock and roll love letter!
Cream: The Story Behind “Sunshine of Your Love”
Musically, the song joins influences from the blues, rock and psychedelic rock, drinking inspiration from the Beat Generation movement. The lyrics were co-authored by Pete Brown, a beat poet and performer, who also wrote “White Room” and “I Feel Free”.
The lyricist was originally friend with Ginger Baker, who later introduced him to the other members of the band. Most of the song was written during an all night long creative session with Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. The musicians were inspired by the dawn lights that were getting nearer and which lighted their tired eyes. The refrain was later composed by Eric Clapton.
The bass lines are a major ingredient of “Sunshine of Your Love”. According to a 2003 interview, Jack Bruce was thinking about them after going to a concert by Jimi Hendrix. The result was historical and became a reference to every bassist who came after Bruce. Speaking without false modesty, he said: “It’s based on a bass riff. And when you enter a music shop song this is the song that kids always play to try out a guitar”.
“Disraeli Gears”: A Happy Coincidence
“Sunshine of Your Love” was released in 1967. The song is a part of “Disraeli Gears”, the second album of the band. The name of the record was inspired by an episode of malapropism and the story is a bit funny. Why? Well: At the time, Eric Clapton was thinking about buying a motorbike. When discussing the subject with Ginger Baker and Mick Turner, instead of saying “derailleur gears”, he said “it’s got them “disraeli” gears. The band thought the mistake was hilarious and chose to name the album after that.
For those who do not get it, we remember that Disraeli was the last name of the former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. Together with “Sunshine of Your Love”, the album had another single: “Strange Brew”. The first has been covered by several artists, from Carlos Santana to the inspirational father of the song, Jimi Hendrix.
Cream: A Difficult Friendship and a Huge Legacy
Like we previously said, the Cream was formed in the 1960’s and was famous for fusing blues with rock and psychedelic sounds. During Cream’s entire career the band released a total of 4 studio albums, 5 live albums and 11 compilations.
Besides the huge success, the Cream was involved in fights and controversy. The group broke up in May 1968, due to an old rivalry between Bruce and Baker. Both band members complained about an excessive showing off by the other. Clapton even accused his companions of not noticing that he stopped playing during a concert.
After a long period, the band came back together to the celebration of their 1993’s introduction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The short performance originated rumors about a possible tour that never occurred. The band only reunited again in 2003 for a series of 4 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden.
The concerts were a huge commercial success and left fans grieving for more. During an interview, Clapton confessed that he learned to surpass the bitterness of the past, considering the unique opportunity of playing with Bruce and Baker.
However, health (old age?) intervened. Bruce was recovering from liver cancer and Baker was suffering from a severe arthritis that kept him off playing at full capability. After those concerts, there were a few denied rumors about another reunion before Jack Bruce finally succumbed in 2014 to his liver condition.