"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.
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 guitar riff that runs throughout the song. 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…'" 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 drum part was suggested by producer Tom Dowd, who drew his inspiration from what he called the "Indian beat" of classic Western films. This slow, downbeat-stressing 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. However, Baker claims that he was the one who came up with the drum pattern and didn't receive writing credit: "not even a thank you!"
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 album 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.
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.
The clip Cream — Sunshine of Your Love can be downloaded for free and without registration.