“Farther On Up The Road” and “Further On Up The Road“ is a blues song first recorded in 1957 by Bobby “Blue” Bland…..which is an early influential Texas shuffle….and features guitar playing that represents the transition from the 1940’s blues style to the 1960’s blues-rock style….as the song became Bland’s first record chart success and one of his best-known tunes. As a blues standard, “Farther Up the Road” has been performed and recorded by numerous blues and other artists….which included Eric Clapton….who has made it part of his repertoire under the name Further On Up The Road.
The songwriting for “Farther Up the Road” is credited to Joe Medwick Veasey…who was a Houston-area independent songwriter/broker along with Duke Records owner Don Robey. In an interview, blues singer Johnny Copeland claimed he and Medwick wrote the song in one night….when Medwick then sold it the next day to Robey….with Robey taking Copeland’s songwriting credit….but according to Bobby Bland, Medwick wrote the song with no involvement by Robey.
The guitar work on the song has been attributed to three different guitar players including Pat Hare, Mel Brown, and Wayne Bennett…..however, Bland noted that Hare was the session guitarist, having been chosen by arranger/trumpeter Joe Scott. It was Hare’s only session with Bland, although he was in Junior Parker’s Blue Flames….who sometimes provided backup while Bland was on tour…..as Bennett and Brown were Bland’s later guitarists.
Eric Clapton recorded several versions of “Farther Up the Road” over the years….while usually calling it after its opening lyrics “Further On up the Road”….as Clapton uses the lyrics from the original….but the song is performed at a faster tempo as an unembellished shuffle. The song first appeared on his 1975 live album E. C. Was Here. In 1976, a live version was recorded with Freddie King….which is included on his album Freddie King (1934–1976). Also in 1976, he performed the song with The Band in the concert film The Last Waltz…..as seen in this video herewith. Another live version was recorded in Japan in 1979 for Clapton’s Just One Night. In 1981….then Clapton recorded it with Jeff Beck during The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball benefit show….plus a version with Joe Bonamassa appears on the 2009 video Joe Bonamassa: Live from the Royal Albert Hall. Clapton co-performed the song with Robbie Robertson of The Band during his induction at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000….and resurrected it for his 2007 and 2011 Asian, European and American world tours.