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Derek and the Dominos – Layla

Derek and the Dominos – Layla

‘Layla’ is a song written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon and was recorded by Derek and the Dominos on their only studio album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which was released in 1970.

The original version of Layla ran for a full 7:10. However, it was an edited version (2:43) that was first released as a single in 1971, which sadly flopped in the charts. It was only after the full, 7:10 version was released a year later, that the song’s popularity grew to become an iconic rock music tune, including being selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll", and ranking at number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

Label:   Atco (US) RSO Polydor
Songwriters:   Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon
Producers:   Tom Dowd, Derek and the Dominos

 

 Photo: Derek and the Dominos

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

Eric Clapton’s inspiration for the song came after Ian Dallas gave him a copy of the 12th century ‘The Story of Layla and Majnun’ by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, which was drawn from a 7th century Arabian love story. The story of a young man’s hopeless love and desire to marry a beautiful young girl, which is ruined when he goes crazy, combined with Clapton’s already growing love for fellow musician and friend George Harrison’s then wife, Pattie Boyd provided the inspiration needed to create the musical masterpiece known as ‘Layla’.

Pattie Boyd was a model when George Harrison met her while filming A Hard Day’s Night. They married two years later in 1966. Harrison and Clapton became close friends through the late 60’s, often contributing to each other’s musical work, such as Clapton’s uncredited guitar work on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.

 Photo: Pattie Boyd & George Harrison / Pattie Boyd & Eric Clapton

After recording the album ‘Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs’ in the U.S.A., Clapton took the tapes back to England to present the musical love letter to Pattie Boyd. Pattie is quoted in her book ‘Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me’ (2007) claiming that “"We met secretly at a flat in South Kensington. Eric Clapton had asked me to come because he wanted me to listen to a new number he had written. He switched on the tape machine, turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable. He played it to me two or three times, all the while watching my face intently for my reaction. My first thought was: 'Oh God, everyone's going to know this is about me.'… with the realization that I had inspired such passion and creativity, the song got the better of me. I could resist no longer."

It was still some time before Boyd divorced George Harrison in 1977, and then married Eric Clapton in 1979. The wedding took place in Tucson, Arizona, while Clapton was on tour. Still friends, and with no bitterness, George Harrison attended the wedding, along with former band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Sadly, Eric and Pattie divorced in 1989.

The song was written and composed in two parts by Eric Clapton and drummer Jim Gordon, Gordon being accredited with writing the final piano section. Gordon’s claim of writing the piece of piano music has since been claimed as untrue by his then girlfriend Rita Coolidge. In several interviews and in her book ‘Delta Lady’, Coolidge alleges that she had actually written the piece and had recorded it with Gordon before he and the band flew to America. After hearing the piano section of the song almost a year later, Coolidge tried to contact Clapton, but was abruptly dismissed by Clapton’s then manager Robert Stigwood.

The combination of two lead guitarists Eric Clapton and Duane Allman and the interplay that occurs between them on the song formed such a memorable sound that album producer Tom Dowd said "There had to be some sort of telepathy going on because I've never seen spontaneous inspiration happen at that rate and level."

The 1957 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top guitar, which was played by Duane Allman on ‘Layla’ (often referred to as the “Layla” guitar) was recently sold at auction for US$1.25 million.

In 1992, on MTV Unplugged, Eric Clapton recording includes an acoustic version of ‘Layla’, which he later included on his Unplugged album. The new generation of fans propelled the album to an incredible 26 million sales.

SONG LYRICS

[Opening Instrumental Riff]

[Verse 1]
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
 
[Chorus]
Layla, you've got me on my knees
Layla, I'm begging, darling please
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind
 
[Verse 2]
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
 
[Chorus]
Layla, you've got me on my knees
Layla, I'm begging, darling please
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind
 
[Verse 3]
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
 
[Chorus]
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
 

[Instrumental Outro]

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