Cream – The Sunshine Of Your Love

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Cream – The Sunshine Of Your LoveCream was rock’s prototype power trio, and The Sunshine of Your Love was the pro­totype power trio song. Reflecting the blend of electric blues and hard rock – which precipi­tated the harder blues-rock and heavy metal of the 70s and beyond – it is arguably Cream’s best known piece and unarguably one of the greatest riff tunes of all time. Built on a line conceived by bassist Jack Bruce for Jimi Hendrix, Sunshine is a stand-out track from the classic Disraeli Gears album of 1967, and an auspicious outing for a then relatively unknown guitarist, Eric Clapton. It has since become a mainstay of both Clapton and Bruce’s live shows, a jamming favorite, and a must-know piece in the annals of blues-rock lore.

The Sunshine Of Your Love. The Riff

The main riff of Sunshine is permanently etched in rock history. The unforgettable 10-note figure is constructed from the D blues scale (D-F-G-Ab-A-C), and is found in a couple of different forms throughout the song. In the intro, it is played as a single-note line doubling the bass part. Riff A, the more prominent ver­sion of the figure, includes parallel movable barre chords on the first two beats and adds a double-stop in the second measure (on beat 2-and). The movable barre chords are played in partial form – only the low four notes are heard – yet it is wise to finger them as com­plete chords and use the index finger to mute out the unwanted B and high E strings during the figure [Fig. 1]. Notice the famous Clapton vibrato in both versions of the riff. Other vari­ations of the main riff are found as Fill 1 and behind the guitar solo. The riff melody is moved to G when the harmony changes to the IV chord in the verse.

The Form

The song structure of Sunshine has clear blues roots. Throughout the verses, the tune operates as a large blues form with a longer time span, dictated by the riff. Think of this section as the first two-thirds of the basic blues pro­gression, which would be eight bars (of a full 12-bar progression), and just double the time. This makes sixteen instead of eight bars; however, the basic harmonic moves (the relationship of the I and IV chords) and the proportions are the same, only larger [Fig. 2]. The chorus begins on the V chord, A, and at first seems to continue the blues form where the verse left off. The next change in the blues form would be to A or the V chord. The chorus progression, Rhy. Fig. 1, rapidly dispels any overt blues connection and instead uses a repeating A-C-G pattern more associated with straight-ahead rock tunes. Note the unusual C/G barre chord voicing used in the choruses [Fig. 3]. It is played by barring with both the index and ring fingers, and using the bent knuckle technique across the 4th through 2nd strings. This chord takes a little more prac­tice to set up and switch smoothly, but is well worth the effort. It is the precursor of the heav­ier power chords, with the 5th in the bass, as used in Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary” and Danzig’s “Mother.”

The Sunshine Of Your Love. The Solo

Clapton’s solo in Sunshine is the epitome of blues-rock. He mixes traditional electric blues licks a la B.B. King and Albert King with his own high-energy British rock approach, and delivers the statement with an unmistakable SG and Marshall tone. The improvisations are played over the entire form, verse, and chorus. The solo is a study in scale combining, bending, and phrasing. Clapton’s scale-combining approach is legendary and has become a sonic trademark. Here, he relies on combinations of D minor pentatonic (D-F-G-A-C) and D major pentatonic (D-E-F#-A-B). Eric uses the opera­tive tones of both scales to masterfully slip in and out of major versus minor sounds, or to mix both together in the same line, during his impro­vising. String bending is another Clapton forte and this solo contains every variety from narrow half-step bends to very wide two-step bends, pre-bent notes, held bends, and double-stop bends. The very wide bends (measure 8) require extra control, hand strength, and greater con­cern for intonation. Use reinforced fingering (two or three fingers to push the string) to exe­cute this bend, and compare the destination pitch (the note you’re bending to), A, with the unbent note A on the 2nd string, 10th fret, to check the bend’s intonation. Similarly, the dou­ble-stop bends in measures 4 and 6 demand reinforced fingering, as well as use of the bent-knuckle barring technique to fret both strings. To get a handle on the phrasing, listen to the entire solo and try to sing along, just rhythmi­cally scatting the phrases. Then transfer them to the guitar. I think Eric Johnson put it best when he said Clapton’s sound and approach was close to a human voice. That’s what you hear throughout this solo, nothing less than Clapton singing through the guitar.

Cream – The Sunshine Of Your Love guitar tabs

It’s a part of Cream The Sunshine Of Your Love guitar tab and sheet.

Through the link below you can download a full transcription of

The Sunshine Of Your Love with backing track


23 February 2013 5 comments
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Apr 7, 2013
#1 Vernon Da Fonseca :

Superb track. But you have made no mention of the solo being the melody of Blue Moon-a quotation actually.

Author Apr 7, 2013
#2 Otto (TabsClub) :

Sorry, what do you mean?

Nov 10, 2014
#3 john :

I don’t know specifically what the poster is referring to, but it seems pretty obvious to me that there is some song called Blue Moon

Nov 10, 2014
#4 john :

I don’t know specifically what the poster is referring to, but it seems pretty obvious to me that there is some song called Blue Moon and the poster is saying Clapton borrowed from it.

Nov 10, 2014
#5 john :

Blue Moon is a standard by Rodgers and Hart and recorded by the Marcels. I am no expert or I would not be here, but it does seem kind of similar, to me.

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