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Eric Clapton and JJ Cale - Cocaine (1976): the story of a song banned in the USSR

The song "Cocaine" is known to every music lover of the 70s and 80s. Why was the song named that way, why was it banned in the USSR and what is its true meaning? About this - in our article.

Why did Clapton stop playing "Cocaine" at concerts?

Composition Jay Jay Kayla "Cocaine" came out in 1976, but became popular only after the cover version of Eric Clapton. According to AllMusic, "Cocaine" is Clapton's "timeless hit", one might say, the best his job. Eric played a huge role in the recording of the cover Glyn Jones, British record producer, sound engineer and musician.

History of creation

Jay Jay wrote the song "Cocaine" in 1976, in the future it will be included in the album Troubadour.

"Cocaine" cover by JJ Cale
"Cocaine" cover by JJ Cale

Cale originally saw "Cocaine" as jazz a composition that is somewhat reminiscent of the nature of the performance Mose Allison. But Audie Ashworth, director and colleague of Cale, convinced him to change the song:

“I like it, but try recording the song again. Add more rock and roll".

In 1970s Cale's work has become more popular: the song "After Midnight" became a well-known composition. started tourduring which Cale met Clapton. Eric came to him concert, and after meeting the musicians went to studio Clapton where he performed Kayla your version Cocaine. It was she who later recorded for discs, sounded on the radio and at the artist's performances.

JJ Cale
JJ Cale

Cover version Clapton was included in his album "Slow hand"released in the late 1970s. As singles the song came out later – in the 1980s. It was not the only one JJ Cale's composition with which Eric performed: he performed more "After Midnight" and "Travelin' Light". Cale owes a lot to Eric Clapton, because people learned about his songs and work after several Eric covers of his songs.

Eric Clapton today
Eric Clapton today

Not only Clapton performed "Cocaine". In the future, it will be included in the repertoire of such groups as "Nazareth" (the albums "The Fool Circle" and "It's Naz" will include this song in their composition) and Sweet. IN the USSR the composition "Cocaine" is remembered as the version of the Scottish group "Nazareth". An interesting situation arose: Clapton's version was popular with English speaking listeners, the cover of "Nazareth" - Sovietand the original was the least popular. This may have been due to the fact that JJ Cale's version was more jazz, and the rock and roll version suits her best.

Samo title the song "Cocaine" in the USSR was already perceived as propaganda. There have been many claims that the song supports and encourages use narcotic funds, although it was worth just looking at the text and everything became clear: “Cocaine” is, on the contrary, a song that drugs are evil.

In the end the song banned, all her records in the country were confiscated. It only cost a man turn on "Cocaine", as he immediately arose Problems. The members of the Nazareth group themselves were perceived as terrible drug addictswho want to lead Soviet citizens astray and "plant" for drugs. And people didn't even think about the fact that "Nazareth" are not authors this song, they're just performed her cover.

Nazareth in the 90s
Nazareth in the 90s

Meaning and message

Most people of that time took the song too literally. Cale said that the composition is by no means "does not protect cocaine". The author is just observed behind the people who dealt with him, and so the lyrics of the song were born. Jay Jay was upsetthat listeners didn't try to find the truth in lines, but only expressed their discontent existence widespread drug addiction problems, although it has always been:

“We have always had a problem with drugs!”

Eric Clapton So accepted Keil's text:

“After listening to “Cocaine” for the first time, a person might think that this is a song encourages drug use. But if you look closely, you will understand that it is anti-drug".

Eric also argues that the song about the drug can't please someone - people will rather distressed this. So the lyrics were ambiguous: only a careful analysis of the words will help to see that the song condemns drugs rather than encouraging their use. He called the song "pretty smart anticocaine".

In the future, Clapton had many problems with the performance of this song: her ambiguity forced him to exclude "Cocaine" from the concert repertoire. A few years of song it is forbidden was heard on it speeches. Clapton understood why it should not be included in the program: he himself knows about narcotic dependencies firsthand, so does not want to mislead listeners. but later Eric began to perform it at concerts: listeners have already understood the true meaning songs, as Clapton himself has said it a thousand times. Moreover, he used the epithet "filthy" in relation to "cocaine", so that there were definitely no problems.

The group "Sweet" in the 80s
The group "Sweet" in the 80s

Interesting fact: although "Cocaine" became one of Eric's most popular songs, he never released it studio version. Only her recordings with speeches.

The live version of the song for the album "Just One Night" made the list Billboard Hot 100 and took 30th place. "Cocaine" was the biggest hit in New Zealand within 7 days and took 7th place in the list of the most sold items singles from the 70s. The song can also be heard in several film works, such as "Starsky & Hutch", "Bad News Bears", "Lord of War". Richard Gilliam himself, music critic and spokesperson for AllMusic, has this to say about the song:

"What appeals to JJ Cale in 'Cocaine' is that the meaning of the lines cannot be understood. immediately, you need to carefully analyze, because the words do not quite correlate with the real meaning of the song. Every person perceives it as he wants: for someone it is a condemnation of drugs, for another it is the other way around. However, people fell in love with her not so much with the meaning and message, but with the driving guitar solo... "

Eric Clapton at a recent performance
Eric Clapton at a recent performance

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