Eric Clapton Resumes Playing ‘Cocaine’ in Concert

Eric Clapton concerts are once again a place to get a Cocaine fix.

Eric Clapton is playing “Cocaine” in concert again. The recovering drug addict and alcoholic, who founded the Crossroads Centre addiction recovery center on the Caribbean island of Antigua, stopped performing the song written by J.J. Cale when he first got sober.

Eric Clapton Plays Cocaine in Concert Photo Eric Clapton performs at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) “I thought that it might be giving the wrong message to people who were in the same boat as me,” Clapton recently told The Associated Press. “But further investigation proved … the song, if anything, if it’s not even ambivalent, it’s an anti-drug song. And so I thought that might be a better way to do it, to approach it from a more positive point of view. And carry on performing it as not a pro-drug song, but just as a reality check about what it does.”

Clapton’s band shouts out “dirty cocaine” during the song.

“It’s one of those songs that you can take it any way you like,” Clapton told the AP. “But it very clearly says in the opening verse, `If you wanna get down, down on the ground,’ I mean, that’s, I think, the focal point of the song. That’s what the song’s about, is that, you know, there’s a price.”

Clapton also said he missed playing “Cocaine,” with its signature guitar riff, “just purely from a musical point of view.”

It’s a pretty cool song and, frankly, I’m not sure the message was ever particularly clear. Whether getting “down, down on the ground” is a good or bad thing is a matter of personal interpretation. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone is going to make a decision to snort or not based on a guitar anthem, anyway.

Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    I had, at one time, a recording of his playing it somewhere live… that ran about 8 minutes. Lots more fun than the studio… he was really getting off on the feedback he was getting from the crowd.

    What a solo…