David Bowie’s long-awaited single “Where Are We Now,” in a roundabout way, helped inspire the name of Eric Clapton’s new album Old Sock, which the guitarist reveals originally had a far different working title.
Seems Clapton was watching the news when reports of Bowie’s return, after a decade away from music, began airing. Upon hearing “Where Are We Now?,” Clapton says he was moved to reach out to Bowie.
“Now, I don’t know David, at all,” Clapton says, in the video below. “I’ve met him once, I think. I’ve been a fan, but I have to say I’ve never been 100 percent fond of everything he’s done. I just think it’s been really interesting stuff. But this song took my by the scruff of the neck, so I brought the album. The construction of the song gave me cold chills. It is seriously good.”
So, Clapton sent along a message through Bowie’s office, praising him for the track. “And he came back, and he said: ‘Thanks for the shout out, old sock,’” Clapton remembers, “and I thought, ‘There it is!’”
The newly christened album — which arrived as the guitarist celebrated five decades in music — had originally been called 50 Years of Open Tuning, after the Derek Taylor book 50 Years of Drift in an Open Shirt, but Clapton had cooled on the idea since it so closely resembled the earlier publication. Once he came upon the idea of Old Sock, Clapton said he quickly became convinced it was perfect.
“What’s good about it is,” Clapton says, “it’s come from someone I respect, who’s been around the same time as me, and we know what that kind of phraseology is. It’s very apt.”
As for the cover image, Clapton also confirms the widely held suspicion that it was a vacation self-portrait.
“I’d taken this picture of myself on my iPhone,” Clapton adds. “I don’t know why I do things like that, but I just did. This was about a year ago; I was on holiday. I thought this is a great album cover. It will probably upset people at the record company, because it won’t be very well defined when they try to process it. I just thought it a good start.”