In The Fifth Witness, there is a scene with Mickey Haller sitting in the backseat of the Lincoln listening to “Judgement Day” off the latest Eric Clapton album. Scroll down the page to listen to a conversation between Michael Connelly and Eric Clapton.
Clapton & Me
I first heard the sound of Eric Clapton’s guitar in a friend’s garage in 1969. It was the only place we were allowed to turn it up loud. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve tracked his career, read his autobiography, watched him play live and listened to his recordings it seems for all of my life.
As a writer, music is important to me. It is routine for me to place the music I am listening to and care about in my books. Harry Bosch’s taste in jazz comes from me. Cassie Black’s love of Lucinda Williams was inspired by my love of Lucinda Williams. And Mickey Haller’s musical interests that wander from Tupac Shakur to Ry Cooder and everywhere in between once again come from me.
It doesn’t matter to me that a musical reference on a written page cannot impart the audible journey to the reader. I was on the journey when I wrote that page and that is what matters most. I had to listen to that music to write that page. And if the reader gets something from the reference, if it helps the reading experience or plants a musical suggestion, then that is just icing on the cake.
So with all of that in background, it was one of best moments of my writing life when three years ago I received a message purportedly from Eric Clapton and delivered through this website. It simply said, “Tell Mr. Connelly I appreciate the mention in the new book.”
I have to admit I was tantalized. Could it be him? Could it be the real Eric Clapton? The Eric Clapton of Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes? The man who sang “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight”?
I wrote back, cautiously. On guard in case I was being victimized by an imposter or a prankster. It led to a tentative email relationship and then a friendship. In The Fifth Witness, Mickey Haller listens to Clapton. Not just Eric Clapton but Clapton, the new album. In particular he’s listening to “Judgement Day” when in effect it is a judgment day in the story.
I hope you enjoy my interview with Eric that took place recently at a Los Angeles recording studio. I hope it helps you enjoy riding with Mickey Haller through the book. I’ve been riding with Eric Clapton’s music for forty-two years. Maybe your journey has just begun.
— Michael Connelly
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