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After Midnight


Eric Clapton

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The Oklahoma songwriter and guitarist J.J. Cale wrote this and released it as a demo. The first time Cale heard Clapton's version was when it came on his car radio. Clapton later recorded other Cale songs, including "Cocaine" and "I'll Make Love To You Anytime." Cale recalled to Mojo magazine September 2009 that when he heard Clapton's version playing on his radio, "I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn't a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money."
This was Clapton's first single as a solo artist. Delaney Bramlett, who was friends with J.J. Cale, introduced Clapton to the song and to Cale's music. Clapton became a big fan, and began using Cale's whispery vocal style on some of his tracks.
The album was going to be called Eric Sings, because it was his first release as a solo artist and he was usually not featured as a vocalist with the groups he played with: Cream, The Yardbirds, and Blind Faith. Clapton was revered for his guitar work, but not his vocals.
Clapton released another, more mellow version of "After Midnight" in 1988 on his greatest hits compilation Crossroads. It was released as a single, but did not chart. This 1988 version was used in commercials for Michelob beer.
Clapton switched guitars for this album. He started using a Fender Stratocaster instead of a Gibson Les Paul.
Clapton was still a member of Derek and the Dominos when he released this song. Along with Stephen Stills, they supported Clapton on the album.
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Comments (14):

Warrinder, E.C. learned about this (and other Cale songs) from Delaney Bramlett, liked it, and decided to record it. Supposedly Cale didn't know his song had become a hit until he happened to hear it on the radio in 1970. He was happy to be making some money through that, and it led him to release his own first album.
For something special, catch the video on YouTube of E.P.C. and J.J.C. playing it (and "Call Me the Breeze") together live. I think it was at the 2004 Crossroads Festival.
RIP, J.J. Keep on rockin', Eric.
- Doug, Bristol, ME
I am not sure if this is completely accurate but I thought that I read somewhere that the Michelob Beer commercial came out when Clapton was in rehab. Supposedly Clapton was sitting in front of a TV in rehab when the commercial came on and one of his fellow rehab patients asked, "Hey, isn't that you?" to which Clapton embarrassingly admitted it was.
- Michael, Woodbridge, VA
The slowed down coors mix of After Midnight ranks in my top 10 songs and video of all time. I own every thing that EC has released from the yardbirds to '08.
- dave, akron oh, OH
When I was younger and didn't know much about music, whenever someone said the words "after midnight" the Nelly Furtado song that goes "after midnight, morning will come..." popped into my head. Now it's usually either this one or Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight."
- Marissa, Akron, OH
No one does this tune like Clapton, he is a living legend.
- Andy, Rockaway , NY
EC played with JJ recently. He said "after 3 minutes of playing I didn't realise it was After Midnight JJ was playing." Further "I realised I had been playing it wrong for years"
- Bob, Manchester, England
This song was used in the late 70's and 80's in the opening of a talk show on public access in Manhattan called "Interludes After Midnight". The show was hosted by the owner of a swing club called "Midnight Interludes". The host and all the guests on the show were naked.
- Eric, New York, NY
what is singer saying in song when he says so completely _ _ _ _ free?
- kevin, jacksonville , FL
I'm pretty sure J.J. wrote this song for God. God's version came out in 1970, JJ. Cale's came out in 1971 on his debut as a solo artist.
- Warrinder, A Town, Canada
I love the slow version...makes me reach for a beer.
- rob, vancouver, Canada
Thanks evan, that's what I thought it was too. I was pretty sure it was recorded before the Dominos were formed.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Derek and the Dominos hadn't been formed yet. He had toured with Delaney and Bonnie, and used their backup band on the album. Some of them would later be in the Dominos, but they weren't yet.
- Evan, Fullerton, CA
my friend says Clapton has an "Annoying voic-" (He is always cut off for some reason) i see no prob
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
There are actually two different versions of "After Midnight" on the "Crossroads" boxed set. One is an alternate mix of the original version that includes a horn section; the other one is the aforementioned remake (titled "After Midnight '87").
- Joshua, Twin Cities, MN
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