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"Sunshine of Your Love"
Single by Cream
from the album Disraeli Gears
B-side "SWLABR"
Released December, 1967[1]
Recorded May 1967 at Atlantic Studios, New York City
Genre Psychedelic rock, blues rock
Length 4:10 (album version)
3:03 (single)
Label Reaction Records (UK)
Atco (US)
Writer(s) Eric Clapton
Jack Bruce
Pete Brown
Producer Felix Pappalardi
Cream singles chronology
"Sunshine of Your Love"
"Anyone For Tennis"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Sunshine of Your Love" is a song by the British supergroup Cream, released on the Disraeli Gears album. It was Cream's best-selling song and Atlantic Records' best-selling to date as well. It features a distinctive guitar/bass guitar riff and an acclaimed guitar solo from Eric Clapton. It was written by bassist Jack Bruce, Pete Brown, and Clapton. In 2004, the song was named the 65th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2009 it was named the 44th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.[2]



Development of the song began in January 1967 when Bruce and Clapton attended a Jimi Hendrix show at the Saville Theatre in London. Inspired by the likes of Richard Wetherell and rock drummer, Bruce returned home and wrote the now memorable bass 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…'"[3] Clapton later wrote the chorus ("I've been waiting so long…") which also yielded the song's title.

Clapton's guitar tone on the song is created using his 1964 Gibson SG guitar and a Marshall amplifier. It is also believed that a Vox Clyde McCoy Picture Wah is placed fully in the bass position for the solo section. The song is renowned among guitarists as perhaps the best example of his legendary late-'60s "woman tone", a thick yet articulate sound that many have tried to emulate. For the solo Clapton quoted the opening lines from the pop standard "Blue Moon," creating a contrast between the sun and the moon.

Drummer Ginger Baker's distinctive, slow, downbeat-stressing drum beat forms a key element of the song. Unlike most standard rock beats which have a bass drum on 1 and 3 with a snare on 2 and 4, the beat in "Sunshine" is played almost exclusively on tom-toms, emphasizing beats 1 and 3. At the end of the song the rhythm is dramatically increased, with Baker (as well as the other two) abandoning the song's progression and simply jamming over an open A chord. 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!"[citation needed]

The band's publisher, Atlantic Records, initially rejected the song. Booker T. Jones, leader of Booker T. and the MG's and a respected Atlantic musician, heard the band rehearsing the song in the Atlantic studios and recommended it to the record company bosses. Based on this recommendation, Atlantic approved the recording.

"Sunshine of Your Love" was the band's first big US hit. In the US, this first charted in February, 1968 at #36. With the release of the new album Wheels of Fire in August, it re-entered the chart and went to #5. The song appears on the soundtracks of the movies School of Rock, Goodfellas, Uncommon Valor, and True Lies. The opening riff also appeared at the end of a Futurama episode and in an episode of The Simpsons, it is played when Mona Simpson sees Joe Namath's long hair. Also a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero 3.

The song's distinctive riff is based on a D blues scale (pentatonic).

In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Sunshine of Your Love" at number 19 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.


Versions by other performers

Jimi Hendrix performed "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 as well as the 2010 release Valleys of Neptune 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 Life album, along with a cover of Hendrix' frequent staple "Purple Haze" and a number of other covers.

English sludge band Fudge Tunnel recorded it on their album Hate Songs in E Minor in the 1990s.

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.

Hardcore band Earth Crisis released a live version on their Best-Of album Forever True.

The song was also covered by Ozzy Osbourne on his 2005 cover album Under Cover.

Former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork covered this song with his band Brant Bjork and the Bros on their double-album Saved by Magic.

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 album Oar.

The song is featured in Guitar Hero III as a cover.

A hard rock cover of the song can be heard in the third season of Family Guy the episode of Mr. Saturday Knight.

Funkadelic recorded a cover of the song for their album By Way of the Drum in 1984, but this album was shelved until its release in 2007.

Trini Lopez included "Sunshine Of Your Love" on his Reprise Records album The Whole Enchilada (Reprise 6337).

Jack Bruce recorded the song with Peter Frampton on guitar on the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band tour 1997-1998.

The song was covered as a hard rock version on the Goo Goo Dolls's eponymous debut album.

Also, this song received a rapcore version in Thousand Foot Krutch's first album, That's What People Do.

The Syracuse, New York straight edge hardcore group Earth Crisis, covered the song on their live album The Oath That Keeps Me Free.

American rock band Toto covered it on their 2002 cover album Through the Looking Glass.

Elvis Costello and The Police covered Sunshine of Your Love for Costello's show Spectacle: Elvis Costello with....

Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco and Shaun Weiss perform the song various times in Freaks and Geeks during the episode I'm With the Band.


  • Discography
  • Disraeli Gears (liner notes). 1967, PolyGram International Music.
  • McDermott, John. The Best of Cream: 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection (liner notes). 2000, Universal International Music.
  • Michael Schumacher. Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton 2003, Citadel Press.
  • Moormann, Mark. Tom Dowd and the Language of Music. 2003, Language of Music Films.
  • The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2007-08-27

External links

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