November 3, 2015

Boomer Ballads: Layla

It's not about the song. It's never been about the song. It has always been about the coda.

The opening five bars to the guitar part of "Layla"

Royal Albert Hall, 1988

"'Layla' is a difficult one, because it's a difficult song to perform live.

You have to have a good complement of musicians to get all of the ingredients going, but when you've got that. ... It's difficult to do as a quartet, for instance, because there are some parts you have to play and sing completely opposing lines, which is almost impossible to do. If you've got a big band, which I will have on the tour, then it will be easy to do something like 'Layla'—and I'm very proud of it. I love to hear it. It's almost like it's not me. It's like I'm listening to someone that I really like. Derek and The Dominos was a band I really liked—and it's almost like I wasn't in that band. It's just a band that I'm a fan of. Sometimes, my own music can be like that. When it's served its purpose to being good music, I don't associate myself with it any more. It's like someone else. It's easy to do those songs then." -- Eric Clapton

Clapton originally wrote "Layla" as a ballad, with lyrics describing his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, but the song became a "rocker" when Allman reportedly composed the song's signature riff.

With the band assembled and Dowd producing, "Layla" was recorded in its original form. The recording of the first section consisted of sixteen tracks of which six guitar tracks: a rhythm track by Clapton, three tracks of harmonies played by Clapton (the main power chord riff on both channels and two harmonies against that main riff, one on the left channel and one on the right channel), a track of solos by Allman (fretted solos with bent notes during the verses and a slide solo during the outro), and one track with both Allman and Clapton playing duplicate solos (the 7-note "signature" riff doubled in two octaves and the 12-note "signature" riff doubled in unison). While recording this duplicate solos master track each player used one input of the same two-input Fender Champ amplifier. Shortly afterward, Clapton returned to the studio, where he heard Gordon playing a piano piece he had composed separately. Clapton, impressed by the piece, convinced Gordon to allow it to be used as part of the song. Though only Gordon has been officially credited with this part, Whitlock claimed, "Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. -- La Wik

What'll you do when you get lonely
And nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way
And tell me all my love's in vain.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

Original studio recording and variations if you...

Original studio recording

The Layla Story

Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 3, 2015 12:46 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

"After years of delay, on March 27, 1979, Eric Clapton finally married Pattie Boyd, the ex-wife of his friend George Harrison and the inspiration for the songs “Something,” “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.”

Clapton and Harrison became close friends in the ’60s, at which time Clapton became infatuated with Boyd, who continually rebuffed his advances. But Clapton remained deeply in love with her. Many of the songs on Derek and the Dominos‘ 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs — especially the scorching title track — were thinly veiled autobiographical accounts of his feelings for her. Unfortunately, the album didn’t have the effect Clapton intended, and he fell into a three-year, heroin-induced isolation.

By 1974 — right around the time Clapton was kicking heroin — Harrison and Boyd were splitting up, and, with Harrison’s blessing, she ran into Clapton’s arms. Five years later, they tied the knot.

Two months into the marriage, the newlyweds held a reception for their friends in Clapton’s garden (the same place where Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun”). In attendance were Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. An impromptu jam session among the guests started, which was the closest there had been to a Beatles reunion until the Anthology project in the mid-’90s. John Lennon was not invited to the party due to his long-running immigration issues."

Posted by: tim at November 3, 2015 10:05 AM

If you haven't heard the acoustic version you may not recognize it as it is a lot slower than the electric version you're familiar with. It sounds like a whole nuther toon.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 3, 2015 10:15 AM

In some ways, he has had a snakebit life.

From La Wik:

Clapton and Pattie Boyd married in 1979 and had no children. In 1984 while recording Behind The Sun, Clapton began a relationship with Yvonne Kelly, the manager of AIR Studios Montserrat. Although both were married to other partners at the time, they had a daughter in January 1985. She was named Ruth Kelly Clapton, but her existence was kept from the public until the media realised she was his child in 1991.[139][140]

Clapton and Boyd tried unsuccessfully to have children, even trying in vitro fertilisation in 1984, but were faced instead with miscarriages.[141] They divorced in 1988 following his affair with Italian model Lory Del Santo, who gave birth to their son, Conor, on 21 August 1986. Conor died in 1991, at the age of four and a half, when he fell out of an open bedroom window on the 53rd floor of a Manhattan apartment building.[142] The death of his son was the inspiration for Clapton's song, "Tears in Heaven".

Clapton married Melia McEnery in a low-key church ceremony in January 2002. They have three daughters: Julie Rose (born June 2001), Ella May (born 2003) and Sophie Belle (born 2005).[143] His grandson Isaac Eric Owen Bartlett was born in June 2013 to his oldest daughter Ruth and her husband Dean Bartlett.[144]

Posted by: Punditarian at November 3, 2015 11:07 AM

It seems he bit himself. All that cheatin and fukkin around. Decent stick player but a human failure. Yeah, I'm a judger and a stone caster.

Posted by: ghostsniper at November 3, 2015 2:51 PM

It had absolutely nothing to do with naming out daughter Lila.

Posted by: Fat Man at November 3, 2015 7:56 PM

"Bell Bottom Blues" was also a desperate paean to Boyd.

Posted by: Darkwater at November 4, 2015 12:43 AM

Layla is probably the best rock tune ever written, competing only with Dickie Betts' Jessica.

Posted by: Jack at November 4, 2015 8:11 AM

Clapton — consummate journeyman.

Posted by: chasmatic at November 4, 2015 8:22 AM

I first heard the song as: "Hey, Love...." I like my title better.

Posted by: twolaneflash at November 4, 2015 9:22 AM

From the article:

It's almost like it's not me. It's like I'm listening to someone that I really like.

That is the sign of a consummate professional; a true master at his craft. When someone can play without thinking about what they're doing, they can concentrate on the sound.

It takes about a million years of practice and performing, and real talent. But when someone's got it, there's nothing else like it.

[Oh, and Jack, that's a real good way to start an argument. :^) ]

Posted by: Smokey at November 4, 2015 12:38 PM

Great song. I have never tired of listening to it.

No mention that Gordon is incarcerated?

Posted by: ErisGuy at November 8, 2015 3:31 AM