"Sunshine of Your Love" is a 1967 song by the British rock band Cream, written by Jack Bruce, Pete Brown and Eric Clapton. It was originally released on the albumDisraeli Gears in November 1967, and was later released as a single in January 1968. It is Cream's only gold-selling single in the United States. It features a distinctive electric/bass guitar riff and a guitar solo from Clapton.
- 2 Charts
- 3 Appearances in popular culture
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Solo versions
- 6 Cover versions
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Development of the song began when Bruce and Clapton attended The Jimi Hendrix Experience show at the Saville Theatre in London. After the concert, Bruce returned home and wrote the riff that runs throughout the song. Most of the lyrics to "Sunshine of Your Love" were written during an all-night creative session between Bruce and Brown, a poet who worked with the band: "I picked up my double bass and played the riff. Pete looked out the window and the sun was coming up. He wrote 'It's getting near dawn and lights close their tired eyes…'" Clapton later wrote the song's bridge which also yielded the song's title.
Clapton's guitar tone on the song is created using his 1964 Gibson SG guitar (the famous "Fool" guitar) through a wah-wah pedal and a Marshall amplifier. The song is renowned among guitarists as perhaps the best example of his legendary late-1960s "woman tone", a thick yet articulate sound that many have tried to emulate. For the solo, Clapton played the opening lines from the pop standard "Blue Moon", creating a contrast between the sun and the moon.
Drummer Ginger Baker came up with the song's tempo, which was based on African drumming. Engineer Tom Dowd later claimed to have suggested the drum part, but Baker insists that he was indeed the one who came up with the drum pattern and didn't receive writing credit: "not even a thank you!"
Cream's American record label, Atlantic, did not like the song originally and was not going to release it, but changed their mind when Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, whose Stax label was at the time distributed by Atlantic) said he liked the song. The 1970s disco and funk band Chic while also signed to Atlantic Records, during the birth of their classic hit single "Le Freak," were inspired by the song.
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In the episode of 'The Heart of Darkness' in The Wonder Years, Gary plays the song on his portable sound system as the boys drink beer and smoke around the campfire. The song appears on the soundtracks of the movies School of Rock, Goodfellas, Uncommon Valor, and True Lies. The song also features in the closing credits of Series 2 Episode 1 ("Millwall Brick") of the Netflix series Lilyhammer. The opening riff also appeared at the end of the Futurama episode "The 30% Iron Chef" after Bender offers to make the crew a brunch laced with LSD. The riff also appears in The Simpsons episode "Mother Simpson", played when Mona Simpson sees Joe Namath's long hair. In the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club, the opening riff is air-guitared by character John Bender. It is a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. It is performed in the Freaks and Geeks episode "I'm with the Band". It is also in the Johnny Knoxville movie The Ringer.
In 2004, the song was ranked at No. 65 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Sunshine of Your Love" at No. 19 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2009 it was named the 44th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. The song is also a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list.
Jack Bruce performed the track live at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 1 June 1975 and released it on his album Live '75. Another live version was released on Cities of the Heart and was performed during Jack's 50th birthday concerts in 1993.
On the Jack Bruce album Shadows in the Air the song was covered with Eric Clapton on guitar.
Jimi Hendrix performed an instrumental version of "Sunshine of Your Love" as a setlist staple throughout his 1968 and 1969 concerts, employing wailing guitar riffs in place of the lyrics and ending the song by dramatically slowing the tempo to a grinding halt, as well as including leitmotifs from other Cream songs such as "Outside Woman Blues". Recordings of the song can be found on Experience Vol. 1, The Last Experience Concert: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, the 2010 release Valleys of Neptune and the 2011 release Winterland in their entirety (slightly less than seven minutes) and in a truncated version on BBC Sessions. During a January 1969 appearance on the "Happening for Lulu" television show, Hendrix halted his band near the end of the set and broke into "Sunshine of Your Love", running the show past its scheduled end time. This moment inspired Elvis Costello's rendition of "Radio Radio" on Saturday Night Live in 1977.
Blood, Sweat & Tears also used the riff in their song "Blues Part II", and a cappella singer Bobby McFerrin recorded a voice instrumental version of the song on the album Simple Pleasures (1988), in which he replicates Clapton's guitar solo using only his vocals and some effects processing. Ella Fitzgerald also recorded a version in 1968. The trippiness of her rendition might be compared with that of The 5th Dimension's, which appeared on the vocal group's The Age of Aquarius LP. A version (with some sexually charged lyric changes) performed by Frank Zappa (and band) appears on his The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Lifealbum, along with a cover of Hendrix' frequent staple "Purple Haze" and a number of other covers.
Japanese rock band Gastunk released a cover as a single in 1988.
SF Bay Area band Lifeunderwater covered the song during their live performances in the late 1980s.
Living Colour recorded their take on the song in 1994 for the True Lies soundtrack, which also appears on their Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour 2006 compilation album.
"Sunshine of Your Love" was also given a skanking up-tempo cover by Bim Skala Bim on the Tuba City (1989) album.
The riff appears at the end of the noise section of "Dead Bob" by Nomeansno on the album Sex Mad. It is also borrowed by Alexander 'Skip' Spence at the end of the song "War In Peace" from his 1969 cult albumOar.
Carlos Santana covered the song on his 2010 album Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time. The song features vocals by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty (Thomas had previously appeared on Santana's "Smooth" in 1999). It was at one point the second-most popular Santana song on iTunes despite it not being released as a single.
Japanese guitarist and singer Tomoyasu Hotei covered the song for the album GUITARHYTHM V in 2009.