Flashback Fridays: "Layla" by Eric Clapton
It would be hard to argue that anyone can fall in love quite like Eric Clapton. While some love rock ballads like Journey’s “Faithfully” and Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You” succeed at belting out lyrics of loyalty, love, and passion, few songs can bring the grit to a love song that Eric Clapton’s “Layla” can.
Known for one of the most definitive, high-powered guitar riffs in rock n’ roll history, and for its equally blistering vocals, “Layla” portrays the idea of love and passion (and possibly obsession) in the most rock n’ roll way possible.
The song, being about a man in love with a woman whose affections he relentlessly tries to win over, was inspired by Clapton’s undeniable love for Pattie Boyd, who at one point was the wife of former Beatle, George Harrison, making for one of the most famous love triangles in celebrity history.
“What’ll you do when you get lonely, and nobody’s waiting by your side,” sings Clapton, as he puts his real life emotions into his grandest attempt in seducing the object of his affection. The chorus is a virtual howl of angst when Clapton croons "Layla, you got me on my knees."
Clapton’s attempts to lure Boyd from Harrison into his arms hit their climax with “Layla”.
In 2007 Boyd spoke to Daily Mail about the polarizing situation she found herself in, and how she herself gave into the passionate intensity instilled in the song.
“I was married to Eric’s close friend, George Harrison, but Eric had been making his desire for me clear for months. I felt uncomfortable that he was pushing me in a direction in which I wasn’t certain I wanted to go. But with the realization that I had inspired such a passion and creativity, the song got the better of me. I could resist no longer," recalled Boyd.
The song was composed of two parts, the first consisting of the guitar and vocal parts written by Clapton and the second being a piano coda composed by drummer Jim Gordon. It was released by Derek and the Dominos, one of Clapton’s several bands, in the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
It was initially unsuccessful but grew on the musical hearts of many, becoming one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
The song peaked at #10 on the U.S Billboard 100 and was listed by Rolling Stone as #27 on its list of “ The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
"Layla" has become a staple for people who lust for what they cannot have; for those who long for someone so deeply that they resort to begging and manipulation. It would eventually take almost a decade for Boyd to finally surrender and even marry Clapton.
For those who don’t know the ache that resided in the love Clapton had for Boyd, one listen to the song is enough to understand just what inspired the masterpiece of creativity, and pure rock n’ roll soul that is “Layla.”