After Midnight (3:08)

Cover of The Cream of Clapton

From The Cream of Clapton and 72 other releases

After Midnight is a rock song written by J. J. Cale. The laidback boogie feel of “After Midnight” is a prime example of Cale’s signature style. Though Cale wrote the song, it first appeared on Eric Clapton’s eponymous 1970 album, and Clapton’s recording remains the most well known version of the song. Cale had written the song and released a demo version in 1966. Several years later, when Clapton was preparing for his first solo album, Tulsa bassist Carl Radle, who was working with Clapton at the time, introduced him to the song.

“After Midnight” was also in many ways the catalyst for Cale’s own solo recording career. Cale, languishing in obscurity, was unaware of Clapton’s recording of the song until it became a radio hit in 1970. Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged him to capitalize on the song’s success by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1971.

In addition to Clapton, the song has been covered by Chet Atkins, The Shirelles, The Jerry Garcia Band, Phish, Sergio Mendes (who performed the song with an unusual 7/8 meter), Maggie Bell and composer Danny Elfman. Cale released a live version on the album Live in 2001.

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