Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” Lyrics Meaning

Eric Clapton composed “Tears in Heaven” after a particularly painful period in his life. During this very dark period, Clapton, within a seven-month span, lost a friend/peer, his own manager, two associates and his young son to death. Thus “Tears in Heaven” is meant to address those tragedies, specifically the loss of Conor, the singer’s four-year old son. And outside of that, the track is also intended to in some capacity fit into the general theme of the 1991 movie “Rush”, since it was created specifically to be featured on that project.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven at

Lyrically the song is relatively-terse. And the best way to describe it is as the singer addressing someone in the afterlife, specifically “in heaven”. First, that would imply that the individual he is speaking to was indeed a righteous person, as in someone he deems would be received favorably into the hereafter. And basically, what Eric is asking is that if this individual he loved so much on the earthly plane would also remember him if they were to meet “in heaven”. So ultimately, the song does not read as if Mr. Clapton is also deceased and is interacting with this person. Rather this is a theoretical inquiry he is putting forth from the land of the living.

How does this song fit into “Rush”?

But as far as how exactly this song is supposed to fit into the movie “Rush”, that has not been definitely ascertained. And at the end of the day it doesn’t even really matter, as the song strongly contributed to the film itself being moderately successful. And in fact in the grand scheme of things, “Tears in Heaven” has actually outperformed the film itself.

“Tears in Heaven” is a Sorrowful Song

So conclusively, we say this is a mourning song. The singer is having an imaginary monologue with someone he loves who has died. And what is relayed throughout basically boils down to him missing this particular person.

Lyrics of "Tears in Heaven"

Eric Clapton’s Signature Song

Despite its tragic background, “Tears in Heaven” went on to become perhaps the signature song of Clapton’s career.

For instance, the track was nominated for five Grammys in 1993 and actually won three of them. It won in the following categories:

  • “Best Pop Vocal Performance”
  • “Record of the Year
  • “ Song of the Year

Additionally “Tears in Heaven” has made Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, ranking at number 362.

Another notable Rolling Stone ranking this song has made was being named by the magazine (based on a readers’ poll) in 2013 as the ‘Saddest Song of All Time’.

This track has also been recognized in 2004 by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”, as well as achieving a number of other accolades.

For instance, its official visual won an MTV Video Music Award in 1992 in the “Best Male Video” category.

Clapton’s Biggest Hit in the United States

Moreover “Tears in Heaven” proved to be Clapton’s, himself an Englishman, best-selling song in the United States. Thus the track peaked at number 2 on the Hot 100.

Also a Global Success

Additionally the song scored a number one in the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Demark
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Taiwan
  • Japan

“Tears in Heaven” also made it to number five on the UK Singles chart in addition to breaking the top 5 in France, Italy and Sweden.

When did Eric Clapton release “Tears in Heaven”?

Clapton initially released it on 8 January 1992 as part of the soundtrack album for the movie “Rush”.

However, some fans may be more familiar with Mr. Clapton’s live rendition of the song, which came out on 25 August 1992. That live rendition was part of his album “Unplugged”. This project went on to become a lot more successful than the “Rush” soundtrack.

That being said, it’s important to note that the “Unplugged” version of the song was never released as a single. Thus it was the original “Rush” version that actually won the aforementioned Grammy Awards.

Clapton stopped performing “Tears in Heaven” in 2004

 Eric Clapton decided that he would stop performing “Tears in Heaven” in 2004. And why did he do this? According to him, he was forced to do so because that particular sorrowful chapter in his life had been successfully closed.

Who wrote “Tears in Heaven”?

Clapton penned this very touching song with prolific movie-song writer Will Jennings. And the track was produced by Russ Titelman.

4 Responses

  1. John says:

    Eric Clapton himself said in an interview with Howard Stern that Tears in Heaven was not written about his son’s passing.

  2. M.J. Leger says:

    It is a terrible thing to lose a child, especially the Eric’s son died. But life goes on, an if you ar to go on with it, you must heal, put tragedies in the past. You NEVER forget those you lost, but reliving trauma only increases stress hormones in your own body and if allowed to continue, will cause cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart) and shorten YOUR life.
    You will NEVER forget those who have left you, BUT, for your own sake, you must put aside the tragedy of losing them, and choose to remember the happy times, when they put a smile on your face, and go on living. It’s called survival! Not easy to forget a trauma, but much easier to remember all the happy times, if you will just train your mind to do that. It takes perseverance and control, but it’s how we get past ALL the bad things in life and move on to better things. You MUST push on, or you won’t survive, and no one in their right mind wants to die but things can seem so overwhelming with sorrow, at times, you wonder if you can go on. That’s when you should seek, professional help, there ARE ways to help you get through the trauma and go on to happier times. If you find you cannot do it alone, please get psychological counseling, there are drugs that can help depression, and eager ears to hear you and advise you, and help you get through the rough times and go on living again.

  3. Sandra McLaughin says:

    I lost my son very tragically too this song is so beyond true of the rollarcoaster of emotions that you go through each & every month year day that passed thankyou for writing this song for your sweet baby Connor it had personally helped me through many many dark days Godbless our boys and keep them safe in heavan luv a mother who’s heart is broken ❤️

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