Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

Life in 12 Bars is the name of Lili Fini Zanuck's feature-length 2018 documentary about Eric Clapton, so it fits that its accompanying soundtrack also attempts to tell his story, only through song. To that end, the double-disc soundtrack doesn't limit itself strictly to music Clapton recorded himself, either on his own, as a sideman, or with the many bands he's played in over the years. It kicks off with three vintage blues sides -- "Backwater Blues" by Big Bill Broonzy, then two cuts from Muddy Waters -- and it later finds space for Aretha Franklin's "Good to Me as I Am to You" and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" (although, oddly, nothing from the Band's Music from Big Pink, which changed the course of Clapton's career as thoroughly as hearing blues for the first time). Around these totems are obvious selections ("Steppin' Out," "I Feel Free," "Crossroads," "After Midnight," "Layla"), along with several interesting live selections and songs that represent certain turning points in his life, such as "For Your Love," the song that caused him to leave the Yardbirds. Apart from "Tears in Heaven," which functions as a bittersweet coda, this stops in 1978, with Slowhand tearing through "Mainline Florida," which is fine: there is certainly more story left to tell -- all covered in the film -- but by stopping this narrative here, the soundtrack to Life in 12 Bars draws a good portrait of Clapton at the most vital part of his career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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