Eric Clapton has explained why he felt compelled to voice his controversial anti-vaxxer and lockdown views through song.
The veteran rocker has been publicly vocal about his opposition to lockdown restrictions and vaccinations over the past two years, and last summer said he would not perform concerts that require proof of vaccination.
In December 2020, he teamed up with fellow sceptic Van Morrison for the track ‘Stand And Deliver’, one of many anti-lockdown songs Morrison recorded and which were met with significant backlash.
Then in August last year Clapton released ‘This Has Gotta Stop’, a song which hears him air his frustrations with the measures put in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19 while criticising the vaccine.
The song also touches upon on his “disastrous” reaction to the vaccine – which he detailed early last year after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. “I knew that something was going on wrong/ When you started laying down the law/ I can’t move my hands/ I break out in sweat,” he sings on the track.
Now, speaking in a new interview with The Real Music Observer, Clapton has explained his decision to voice his opinions on the vaccine and lockdown through song, as well as the backlash he received.
Discussing how ‘Stand And Deliver’ and ‘This Has Gotta Stop’ came about, Clapton said: “My career had almost gone anyway. At the point where I spoke up, it had been almost 18 months since I had kind of been forcibly retired. And I joined forces with Van. I got the tip that Van was standing up to the measures. And I thought, ‘Why isn’t anybody else doing this?’ And we go back; I’ve known him since we were kids. And I contacted him. I said, ‘What do you think? What’s going on?’ And he said, ‘I’m just objecting, really. But it seems like we’re not even allowed to do that. And nobody else is doing it.’ And I said, ‘You’re kidding. Nobody else?’ And he said, ‘Nobody else.’ And I said, ‘All, I’m with you. Is there anything I can do to help? Have you got any songs?’ And of course, it was a silly, stupid question ’cause he writes two songs a day or something like that.”
He continued: “And he sent me ‘Stand And Deliver’, which he had already… I didn’t know he had already recorded it. So I thought, ‘Oh, man. I’m getting an unreleased Van Morrison song.’ I was over the moon anyway. And it was during the process of talking about that to another musician, and then getting me excited, and then sharing that news, and I found that nobody wanted to hear that. And I was kind of mystified because I seemed to be the only person that thought that was an exciting or even appropriate idea with what was going on.
“That challenged me even more. ‘Cause I’m a bit like him maybe. I’m cut from the cloth where if you tell me I can’t do something, I really wanna know why I can’t do it. And it seemed like I’d had a wall built around me. But I thought, ‘I’m gonna do this.’ But I did make concessions. I did take out lines or change lines a little bit just to pacify those that I really didn’t wanna hurt, people I didn’t wanna hurt or scare. And needless to say, my family and friends, they got scared, and I think they were scared on my behalf.
Clapton then talked about the theory of mass formation hypnosis and his belief that people were being hypnotised into getting vaccinated through messages promoted on YouTube and in the media.
“[I thought], ‘What’s going on here?’ I didn’t get the memo. Whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me. Then I started to realise there was really a memo, and a guy, [clinical psychology professor] Mattias Desmet, talked about it. And it’s great – the theory of mass formation hypnosis,” he explained. “And I could see it then – once I kind of started to look for it, I saw it everywhere.
“Then I remembered seeing little things on YouTube which were like subliminal advertising; it had been going on for a long time – that thing about ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy.’ And I thought, ‘What’s that mean?’ And bit by bit, I put a rough kind of jigsaw puzzle together. And that made me even more resolute. And so I went from that to looking at the news stuff that was coming out in England and the UK, we have BBC, and it used to be an impartial commentary on world affairs and state affairs. And suddenly it was completely one-way traffic about following orders and obedience.
He continued: “And I felt really motivated, musically. It instigated something which really was laying dormant. I was just playing live gigs up until the lockdown without really being socially involved in any way. Then these guys that were in power really started to piss me… and everybody… I have a tool, I have a calling, and I can make use of that. So I set about it and started writing.”
You can watch the interview below:
Clapton also spoke about his health and how he’s feeling following his two vaccine doses. “I’m feeling pretty good. I think it’s been about nine months since I got sick from the thing and for a couple of months I wasn’t sure if it was gonna go away, if it’s gonna get worse,” he said. “I couldn’t play – I really couldn’t play – and I wasn’t sure… I had a lot of work to do, whether I was gonna get fit for that or whether it was gonna have to be canceled.
“Two years of work [had] already [been] cancelled. And I came to the States. And that was like a trial; that was in September of last year. And I was really pushing to see if I had recovered enough to be able to stand alongside the guys I play with and hold up my hand. And I had a great time.”
Clapton admitted he still had “some stuff going on, which is affected by the cold or the weather or stress to, sometimes”, but that on the whole, he thinks he’s “pretty much the way I was — thank God — before I walked into that”.
Meanwhile, Clapton’s management recently issued a statement after the guitarist successfully sued a German woman for trying to sell a bootleg CD of one of his concerts on eBay.