When I was growing up, Eric Clapton was always held in high esteem by my father, and he instilled in me an almost immediate respect for the guitarist. He taught me that bands like Cream and Blind Faith were more than just rock bands, they were “super groups.”
In terms of Clapton’s own legacy, the sole record Clapton did with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers became Dad’s ultimate go-to record as proof of Eric’s dexterity.
“You know that someone spray painted ‘Clapton is God’ on a wall because of his playing on ‘Beano,'” he’d tell me, before explaining the meaning of “Beano.” For years, I thought the Mayall/Clapton Bluesbreakers was actually called “Beano” and became dismayed when I could never find the album of the same name.
Since I was prewired to appreciate Clapton, there was almost an instinctual attraction toward a new documentary on his early years. The unauthorized dvd, The 1960’s Review, focuses on the guitarist’s formative years, when his talent was untarnished by later career decisions that undermined the man’s credibility.
For some of us, partial obscurity is a badge of honor. Or of authenticity. The fundamental belief is that because a few of us have discovered something, what we have sussed out is better than if all of us do. It’s like this. We find it. Like it. We know that anyone with half a sensibility would like it, too, if they’re aware of it. So we don’t want them to know because if everyone likes something then it is, almost by default, no longer exceptional. While it is never the case that everyone likes anything, we still like it if the artists and musicians that we like are not liked by the great audio unwashed.
Now what may happen is that those whom we like get discovered by more people. At some point—and when this point occurs is something that is indefinable yet perceived—the level of popularity is such that we have “lost” those whom we once revered. The obscurity has been traded way.
And so we turn our backs and wander off, seeking out that which has yet to be embraced by the many. And the performer(s) in question make it, if not big, then at least bigger.