Song of the Day Jan 19

January 19, 2024

This month I’m focusing on some great hits from the 60s.

Today our song is:  Sunshine of Your Love

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

In early 1967, Cream were writing and rehearsing songs for a second album. Their December 1966 debut album, Fresh Cream, was a mix of updated blues numbers and pop-oriented rock songs. Inspired by recent developments in rock music, the group began pursuing a more overtly psychedelic direction. "Sunshine of Your Love" began as a bass phrase or riff developed by Cream bassist Jack Bruce. Cream attended a concert on 29 January 1967 by the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Saville Theatre in London. Cream guitarist Eric Clapton elaborated in a 1988 Rolling Stone magazine interview:

He [Hendrix] played this gig that was blinding. I don't think Jack [Bruce] had really taken him in before ... and when he did see it that night, after the gig he went home and came up with the riff. It was strictly a dedication to Jimi. And then we wrote a song on top of it.

Music writers Covach and Boone describe the riff as blues-derived, using a minor blues pentatonic scale with an added flattened fifth note (or common blues scale). The song follows a blues chord progression (I–IV–I) during the first eight bars. Brown had a difficult time writing lyrics that fit the riff. After an all-night session, Bruce played it on a standup bass while lyricist Pete Brown was staring out the window. Slowly, he started to write "It's getting near dawn and lights close their tired eyes", which is used in the first verse. Later, to break up the rhythm, Clapton wrote a refrain which also yielded the song's title. It consists of eight-bar sections using three chords, when the key shifts to the V chord (I = V)

A bootleg recording from the Ricky-Tick club in London before Cream recorded the song in the studio, shows "Sunshine of Your Love" with a beat common to rock for the period. Cream drummer Ginger Baker compared it to the uptempo "Hey Now, Princess", another Bruce-Brown composition Cream recorded in March. He said that he advised Bruce to slow it down and came up with the distinctive drum pattern which emphasises beats one and three (typical rock drumming favours beats two and four and is known as the backbeat). However, Bruce and recording engineer Tom Dowd dispute Baker's claim, which they say he only made much later. Dowd later explained

Where all the other songs that they [Cream] played were prepared, [but] this one song, they never found a pocket, they were never comfortable ... I said, 'You know, have you ever seen any American Westerns [films that have] the Indian beat, where the downbeat is the beat?' ... And when he [Ginger] started playing it that way, all of the parts came together and right away they were elated.



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