Thursday, August 09, 2007

Something In The Way Layla Looks Wonderful Tonight

[First, Gav is having a little contest, so get over there and vote.]

Excerpts from Pattie Boyd's new book are online, in a two part series by the Daily Mail.

For those readers who may not know who Pattie Boyd is, she was the wife of George Harrison, the love interest of Eric Clapton, and the inspiration for several of their songs, notably George's "Something" and Clapton's "Layla". "Layla" was essentially an attempt to woo her away from her husband.

You might be thinking, "Oh, that's nice." But you may be thinking of the unplugged version of "Layla", not the hard-rockin' "Layla" that's best remembered as the soundtrack to a corpse-discovering scene in "Goodfellas".

Then you look at the lyrics, and discover that it's no saccharine ode to Pattie. It's Clapton feeling sorry for himself, begging, accussing:
What'll you do when you get lonely,
Nobody 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.

Tried to give you consolation,
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
And turned my whole world upside down.
(repeat chorus)

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.
(repeat chorus)
You'll note from the Daily Mail that Pattie initially rejected Clapton and stuck with Harrison. In "Killing Yourself to Live", Chuck Klosterman muses:
I have to assume part of his heart was simply shocked by the irony of this specific attraction: As one of the best-looking, best-known musicians in the world, Eric Clapton could have immediately had any woman he wanted -- but he still wasn't A BEATLE. In 1970, George Harrison was probably one of only 10 people in the universe who was cooler than Eric Clapton, and Harrison happened to be Clapton's best friend. Those are awfully depressing circumstances for a man in love.
(Before we continue, I have to say: good looking? Pattie Boyd was a successful model, and she was trying to decide between two guys that looked like this?

If life were fair, I could be transported back the the '70s, when me and my neck beard could have pulled a different model every night.)

Eventually, a tortured Clapton sent Pattie a letter:
On the title page of a copy of Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, he had written: 'dear layla, for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. i am at the end of my mind, i cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today. i have listened to the wind, i have watched the dark brooding clouds, i have felt the earth beneath me for a sign, a gesture, but there is only silence. why do you hesitate, am i a poor lover, am i ugly, am i too weak, too strong, do you know why? if you want me, take me, i am yours . . . 'if you don't want me, please break the spell that binds me. 'to cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine. 'my love is yours.'

It was signed with a heart.
Why -- aside from herion, alcohol, et al -- would Clapton write such drivel? If you've already proved yourself capable of writing "Layla", why limit yourself to this terrible, "Dawson's Creek" quality prose? Why would a 30ish Clapton was a better songwriter than my seventh grade self, but a worse stalker?

"…For nothing more than the pleasures past I would sacrifice…my own existence…"

So if you could go back in time and relive a forbidden hookup with Pattie, you'd kill yourself? I'll bet I know the way you would have killed yourself: crushed by the weight of your own hyperbole.

Clapton eventually "won" Pattie, and that victory resulted in at least two losses for the rest of us. First, an otherwise fine copy of "Of Mice and Men" was vandalized. Second, and eminently more significant, is "Wonderful Tonight". Eric also wrote that piece of manure for Pattie.

Eric fucking Clapton.


Dougal said...

"Eric fucking Clapton"

haha! genius...

dn said...

I don't know if it's genius, but it's definitely an easy way to end a post, and sums up my feelings on ol' Neck Beard quite nicely.

Floyd said...

I think your criticism of "Wonderful Tonight" is a bit harsh. Let's respect the song for what it's good for: get your girl drunk, put on "Wonderful Tonight," and voila! Instant intercourse.

Of course, replacing "Wonderful Tonight" with almost any other slow song will also work. So on second, thought, you're right to hate on "Wonderful Tonight."

Fucking Clapton.