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Clapton/Layla - 41 years
August 15, 2012 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Layla, written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon has survived over 40 years (wiki), and matured nicely. For your listening pleasure "Layla" - 1970 Derek and the Dominoes, 1992 MTV Unplugged, 2011 Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis.
posted by HuronBob (79 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
The original version is splendid. The unplugged version is absolutely wretched.
posted by davebush at 7:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


The song has far outlived the love that inspired it. As the best songs do.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid - like 8-12 years old, I used to sit in the living room with the Derek & The Dominos record on the record player just listening to that intro over and over again forever - the part before the drums come in was my favorite part, but the rest is great, too. I became obsessed with the rhythm guitar sound of the chords under the melody. I'm still obsessed with it, decades later. I seek it out in other music and I try to get similar tonalities in most of the music I make, whether with a guitar or with synths or other instruments.

(And, like davebush, I can do without the unplugged version. It doesn't have that electric rhythm part, so what good is it?)
posted by The World Famous at 7:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I rarely use the word "rock" as an abstract noun, but dammit, the slow version of "Layla" is a crime against rock.
posted by escabeche at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The unplugged version is absolutely wretched.

I refer to it as "Eric Clapton's Sleepytime Favorites".
posted by Egg Shen at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was really, really expecting to hate these. The original, I've heard a million times, and the first half-million in 1970. We will never speak of that terrible inplugged version.

But that New Orleans funeral band treatment by Marsalis is /inspired/.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's be fair. The Unplugged album and the "Layla" single completely revived Clapton's career. People who had never bought a Clapton album -- or even heard of the man -- were now listening and buying. He later admitted that the success of Unplugged is what led him to feel he had earned the right to make pure blues albums like From the Cradle and Me and Mr. Johnson.

Revile it if you must. But give credit where credit is due. Without Unplugged -- and the gargantuan success of the "Layla" single -- Eric Clapton would've faded into obscurity by now.
posted by zooropa at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


the slow version of "Layla" is a crime against rock., because, of course, it isn't "rock"... :)
posted by HuronBob at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012


One could totally candyflip to this stuff.
posted by item at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


damn, item, make me look that up AGAIN????
posted by HuronBob at 7:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Eric Clapton would've faded into obscurity by now.

You say that like it's a bad thing?
posted by stevil at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Whoa. I knew the sad story of Jim Gordon, his mom, and his imprisonment but I always assumed he was just this guy that used to drum in some band once. I had no idea what an A-Lister he was.
posted by sourwookie at 7:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So is Gordon still imprisoned?
posted by docgonzo at 7:29 PM on August 15, 2012


I wondered that too.
posted by sourwookie at 7:30 PM on August 15, 2012


Yeah, that Marsalis version is better than the song ever was before. Wow.

Presumably Clapton has no problem with Marsalis so long as Marsalis stays in New York; we've got to "keep Britain white," after all.

Even so, it was good to hear that rendition. Thanks, HuronBob.
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


According to the inmate locator, there is a James Beck Gordon imprisoned in California. Sad.
posted by docgonzo at 7:33 PM on August 15, 2012


Evidently Gordon is still in prison.
posted by HuronBob at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2012


For those of you that like the version with Wynton, you might enjoy Joe Turner's Blues.
posted by HuronBob at 7:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a name not yet entered into this thread, and it's a travesty. Duane fucking Allman.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Remember
posted by davebush at 7:45 PM on August 15, 2012


My first year of college, my dorm's second-floor resident advisor was named Leila. One of my best memories of that year is on her birthday, the entire hall serenading Leila--on our knees.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm mainly blown away by Duane's slide playing during the piano outro bit, but apparently, he wrote the opening riff. That's the bit that pushes the song over the edge from just good to utterly sublime. He really was amazing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:53 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is almost a perfect album. I can't even count how many times I've listened to in at least five different media formats over the last forty years. Everything on that album "just works": the song writing, the harmonies, the rhythm section and most importantly, the duel guitar attack of Clapton and Allman. I just started playing it right now after reading this thread and it still thrills me. I love how effortless and organic it all sounds without ever being sloppy or noodly. Just gorgeous stuff.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


In 1993, for a very strange yet wonderful musical week, John Peel stood in for some long-forgotten daytime DJ on the lunchtime Radio 1 show. One of his duties was to read the album charts. I can still hear him saying "and at number 8, Eric Clapton Unplugged", followed by the shortest of pauses, "If only."
posted by jontyjago at 7:55 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh and that terrible unplugged version won the Grammy for Best Rock Song of 1993 (beating out "Smells Like Teen Spirit").
posted by octothorpe at 7:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The original version is splendid. The unplugged version is absolutely wretched.

I always just tell people I love "Layla" by Derek and the Dominoes, but I'm not a big fan of that Eric Clapton guy's cover version.
posted by capricorn at 8:08 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


(beating out "Smells Like Teen Spirit").

Which to be fair, is not a very good song either.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


And, one last link, Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Clapton and Wynton).
posted by HuronBob at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What Devils Rancher said. Duane Allman is what made that song magic, and many others besides (my vote goes to the second side of "Mountain Jam" on "Eat A Peach -- the first guitar break after the bass solo. OH MY GOD). Clapton? He's yet another flashy lead guitarist. There are fifteen-year-olds on YouTube who play as well as him.
posted by Fnarf at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2012


An honest question here... I knew up front that when I posted this, there would be comments that were sort of anti-Clapton, no problem with that, I thought the third link made the post worthwhile anyway, and, to each their own and all that... but, does anyone have any thoughts as to why, if Clapton wasn't the icon he was made out to be, why he earned the status he did?
posted by HuronBob at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2012


He was the icon he was made out to be. But really good live recordings of him didn't start cropping up until he had passed those years when he really was God. By the time it was possible to get an idea of what Clapton sounded like without having to be there to see him live, he was in his meandering testing the waters of different genres phase, which is where most people who don't like him picked him up and figured there wasn't much there.

In short, people who don't think Clapton was ever all he's cracked up to be have never watched this or simply don't get it. And, with all due respect, people who say "there are fifteen-year-olds on YouTube who play as well as him" just have no idea.
posted by The World Famous at 8:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]




I'm not anti-Clapton at all. I cut my teeth as a musician playing along to Wheels of Fire in my bedroom, age 12. In fact, I just sat down and played along with Layla for the first time ever (interesting that the coda is about 1/4 tone sharp from the main body of the song) and the verse is a really great chord progression. The lyrics are obviously passionate, I love his vocals on the track, he put the whole thing together, and credit where credit's due. Clapton is/was an amazing guitarist. His vocabulary at times seems a tad limited, but no slight on the guy overall. He's had a great run, from Cream to Derek to holy shit, Blind Faith -- what an album! The acoustic guitar on Can't Find My Way Home? WOW.

Clapton's solo career kinda floundered direction-wise in the late 70's, and I think he made some poor production & song choices in that era, and I would probably not hold his later work in great regard, except that he really redeemed himself with From The Cradle, which catches the old Bluesbreakers magic, and then some. Wonderful record, full of blistering guitar.

But Duane... Duane was from another planet.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


At this rate, in 2030, when Clapton is very, very old, they're gonna play a version that's only 20 beats per minute, will last 27 minutes, and except for the band and recording engineer, no other human being will bother listening to the whole thing.
posted by chimaera at 9:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I talk trash about Clapton a lot, but I don't hate him. It's just that I don't think flashy lead guitar is very interesting. And I find his Delta-blues fetishism tiresome and ahistorical; but then I find almost everything that seventy-something boomer musicians do tiresome. I'd probably find Allman tiresome if he was still alive!

But Clapton was and is a skilled guitar player and good middle-level rock'n'roller of the classic period. So are a lot of people. It's true that many of those people came after him; that's where the "icon" status came from.

But ultimately, for me, guitar soloing is just boring. Contrary to what is stated above, I DO have an idea -- I've heard all the records more times than you have, I know all the riffs and leads (not as a player), and I just am not interested. When I was a youth I actually got into a fistfight over Clapton vs. Beck vs. Page. Now, I'd be happy to never hear a note of any of them again.

Duane Allman is in a different category.
posted by Fnarf at 9:04 PM on August 15, 2012


Clapton was never really God. But he was always good. His guitar playing is melodic and full of energy and drama and precision. He has been in the music business for 50 years now. That's a long career. There are big patches of that career that are almost unlistenable (the late 70s and early 80s for example -- blame the booze), but there are also those performances and recordings that pop up every once in a while and prove that he really is all he's cracked up to be. Among these career high points:

John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - The Beano Album

Cream

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Blind Faith

All Things Must Pass

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

From The Cradle and its accompanying tour (seek out any bootlegs from this tour you can find... it's well worth it)

Riding With The King

Sessions For Robert J (NOT Me and Mr. Johnson)

The Crossroads Guitar Festival

The recent Clapton and Winwood tour

Wynton and Clapton at Lincoln Center

I'd also like to mention that Clapton has always been very supportive of his musical heroes, from Big Bill Broonzy to Muddy Waters to BB King. He said some really misguided stuff about Enoch Powell in the late 70s that folks like to point to and say "RACIST", but that was a long time ago and he was not exactly in his right mind back then. I think we ought to move past it now, especially since it's pretty hard to point to anything the man has actually done since then as an example of racism.

Layla is one of my favorite songs, and I've probably listened to it nearly a thousand times and I've never managed to get tired of it. It is sublime. Thanks for the post. Here's one more live version from 1986 with Phil Collins on drums which contains what I think is one of his best solos ever.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK. Here we go. I have to defend "MTV's Unplugged."

1) In the late 80's, you had pop, which was awful, you had hair metal, which was worse, you had Classic Rock, which was and is awesome, and you had college radio, and then deep college radio, which where awesomer and awesomest, respectively.

(Deep breath) MJ - Poison - Derek and the Dominoes - REM - Pixies. That was the late '80s on the radio. Nota Bene: WHITE radio

2) You have no idea how huge pop was, how immense "Metal" was, and how marginalized everything else was. Then comes Grunge! Grunge is all fuzzy guitars, right? Lotsa feedback and amp gimmicks, right?

3) MTV, in its last gasp as a legitimate musical arbiter, says to popular acts... "You are more than the sum of your electronic effects." It is the anti-1965-Dylan-controversy. Can electronic acts survive without the electronics?

Nirvana? Hells yes. Rapper L.L. Cool J? An out-of-the-park yes.

The best electric guitarist of all time? The one Jimmi Hendrix relied upon to play in tune? The man who built a career on electric guitar effects? The old and outdated brit-rocker who cut his teeth on illicit imports of legendary bluesmen?

Just after his toddler crawled to his death from a fancy high-rise apartment?

Yeah.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd also like to mention that Clapton has always been very supportive of his musical heroes, from Big Bill Broonzy to Muddy Waters to BB King. He said some really misguided stuff about Enoch Powell in the late 70s that folks like to point to and say "RACIST", but that was a long time ago and he was not exactly in his right mind back then. I think we ought to move past it now, especially since it's pretty hard to point to anything the man has actually done since then as an example of racism.

Except in 2004 and 2007 (among other times) when he publicly reaffirmed his admiration of Enoch Powell,mcalling him a "great" man and openly stating that he still holds the same views. (This *after* stating he keeps his opinions to himself, which makes me wonder howcawful they must be if a pro-Powell stance is something he considers okay.)

Is he still not in his right mind? Or racist? Or just an idiot? I ask this rhetorically, as he's one very famous musician credited with achieving it via musicianship rather than flash or luckor good looks) but whose music never moved me, plus you could easily find his records in communist Yugoslavia, which implied even the authorities realized he didn't have much to say. Consequently, it's been easy for me to cast him aside - more time for better stuff.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you discount any of these versions, you don't deserve the one you like.
posted by cmoj at 10:26 PM on August 15, 2012


Hey there Dee, nice to se ya back!

I knew nothing about Clapton's politics--that's depressing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:27 PM on August 15, 2012


"In short, people who don't think Clapton was ever all he's cracked up to be have never watched this or simply don't get it. And, with all due respect, people who say "there are fifteen-year-olds on YouTube who play as well as him" just have no idea."

I'm honestly not being snarky or dismissive here -- could somebody explain to me why this clip is great? Nothing in it really catches my ear: all I hear is sort of tame-sounding proggy noodling. And although I like a number of Clapton's solos, some of his more famous works make me feel like this clip does. I'd love nothing more than to understand the brilliance of his playing, especially given that so many of my favorite guitarists cite him as a major influence. What am I missing?
posted by archagon at 11:08 PM on August 15, 2012


I rarely use the word "rock" as an abstract noun, but dammit, the slow version of "Layla" is a crime against rock.

The biggest problem about this abomination is that most AC stations play the MTV Unplugged version of Layla instead of the '70s version.

So not only does it exist but you get reminded that it exists on a regular basis listening to AC radio.
posted by Talez at 11:09 PM on August 15, 2012


Some Clapton you may not have heard...he's lead guitar on Roger Water's "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking".
posted by Xoc at 1:32 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


In short, people who don't think Clapton was ever all he's cracked up to be have never watched this

Clapton on a Telecaster! I've loved his playing for years and I've never seen that before!

And, with all due respect, people who say "there are fifteen-year-olds on YouTube who play as well as him" just have no idea.

"I could play Stairway to Heaven at the age of 18. Jimmy Page didn't even write it till he was 26. I think that says a lot."
posted by colie at 1:53 AM on August 16, 2012


Wait, that Telecaster Clapton plays in the Blind Faith clip has a Strat neck!

The acid really was stronger in those days.
posted by colie at 2:34 AM on August 16, 2012



"In short, people who don't think Clapton was ever all he's cracked up to be have never watched this or simply don't get it. And, with all due respect, people who say "there are fifteen-year-olds on YouTube who play as well as him" just have no idea."

I too have "no idea." I think his playing (linked above) was rather meandering and unoriginal.

My favorite Clapton riff was his second solo on Crossroads. Now that is a great solo, full of energy, building to a crescendo that gets a bit out of control - in a good way. Clapton said that he didn't really like it because it was too sloppy. To me, that's the problem with his playing: it can sound too perfect, precise and predictable causing it to emotionally suffer.

Duane Allman was from another planet. My God.
posted by noaccident at 2:41 AM on August 16, 2012


A friend of mine when I was about 12 or so was called Layla, after this song. I remember thinking how lucky she was to be called after such a thrilling song.
posted by WPW at 3:16 AM on August 16, 2012


I had never heard the song until she mentioned that it was why she was called Layla. She played it for me. It was a memorable introduction to it.
posted by WPW at 3:19 AM on August 16, 2012


I'm honestly not being snarky or dismissive here -- could somebody explain to me why this clip is great?

I'll have a go:

- The song is about being lost and so the meandering feel suits it
- Clapton's vibrato on most of the bends is extreme without feeling flashy
- He shows his light and varied touch with the plectrum
- His tone around this time was always great - the bass turned up and treble down etc
- His phrasing, while not his best, is still loose yet builds tension
- The opening lick could only have been him or Hendrix
- The song is a bit like 'While my guitar gently weeps' and this solo is a like a festival-drugged out version of Clapton's solo on that track
- There are few licks (e.g. at 2.43) where he descends the blues scale in a crab-like way that he gets by barring the top 3 strings, but clearly sounds each note beautifully
posted by colie at 5:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Clapton wrote the song about his then-unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, who was married to Clapton's friend George Harrison at the time. They divorced in 1974 and she married Clapton in 1979. Clapton also wrote "Wonderful Tonight" and several other love songs about her, and George Harrison wrote "Something" about her. Harrison later claimed he wrote "Something" about Ray Charles, but come on.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:11 AM on August 16, 2012


My favorite Clapton riff was his second solo on Crossroads. Now that is a great solo, full of energy, building to a crescendo that gets a bit out of control - in a good way.

That solo is perhaps the best mainstream recorded example of the fire in his playing that I felt he never consistently recaptured after leaving Cream. I have often thought his being the 22 years old lone arbiter between two egocentric madmen is what fueled that fire. His career since then is admirable, but something important was never quite the same.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:34 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly certain that the radio edit of "Layla" lops off the last four minutes of the song, so this bit of memorable soundtracking was probably the first time I'd heard anything from the song's second half.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 6:43 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once made the mistake of reading Clapton's autobiography.
posted by Sailormom at 6:44 AM on August 16, 2012


his being the 22 years old lone arbiter between two egocentric madmen is what fueled that fire.

I'm just gonna drop this little rabbit hole right here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:48 AM on August 16, 2012


That whole album at The Lincoln Center Jazz Center is great. Taj Mahal even pops in for a track or two. I've always liked Clapton better when he was playing the blues than he was rocking out. Clapton's solo sticks out a little on Ice Cream and Just a Closer Walk, but as a whole I think he does a better job fitting in stylistically than Willie Nelson did on his goes with Wynton and company. I was really impressed with that, it would be pretty easy to sort of loose the musical flexibility and sensitivity to pull that off, if you've been a legend for the bulk of your career.

I was actually listening to that version of Layla last night, and my favorite part is when the crowd figures out what song it is. It's like a distorted mirror image of when the crowd for the MTV version figures it out.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:55 AM on August 16, 2012


I love the unplugged version of Layla, and that whole album.
posted by starman at 7:58 AM on August 16, 2012


The slow acoustic version is a decent song, or at least would be if anyone could evaluate it on its own merit. If it seems wretched, that's only because it's impossible to avoid comparing it to one of the greatest rock songs ever.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now for something completely different: Layla covered by The Charlie Daniels Band.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:13 AM on August 16, 2012


Was going to post the Goodfellas clip; was beaten to the punch by NolanRyanHatesMatches. I cannot listen to the piano outro of "Layla" without thinking of all those wise guys getting plugged.

Also, if Clapton is God, then which deity is Richard Thompson?
posted by pxe2000 at 8:18 AM on August 16, 2012




Live in 2009 with the Allman Brothers Band with Derek Trucks demonstrating once again his singular awesomeness.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2012


I really don't get the hate for the "Unplugged" version. I agree it doesn't have the legs of the original, which remains one of the best rock songs ever in my personal canon, but it was an interesting take on a song that Clapton had been playing nightly for twenty years at that point. Good Lord, who wouldn't want to mix it up a little? He may or may not have thought it would be a hit, but once it was who can blame him for running with it?

Clapton at his best is fucking iconic. His trouble, or the trouble people have with him (I guess) is that his output has been a little uneven, and that his experiments haven't always borne fruit. For example, I happen to love "Behind the Sun," but plenty of folks just hated the over-synthy over-processed "eighties-ness" of it.

But put on either version of "Crossroads," or "Further On Up The Road," the stuff from Blind Faith (great link uptopic), or nearly any track on "Journeyman" (if you prefer later work), and you'll find some real genius. I saw him last a couple times on that Journeyman tour, and they were some of the best live music experiences of my life, no joke.
posted by uberchet at 9:15 AM on August 16, 2012


I wonder, if Jimi Hendrix were alive right now, would he be putting out slowed-down acoustic MOR versions of Purple Haze and Crosstown Traffic, sans feedback pyrotechnics and kazoos? Or simply clawing desperately at the inside of his coffin?
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Jimi Hendrix were alive today he and Clapton would've probably done an album together by now. And there'd probably also be a YouTube video out there of him covering Layla in an offhand and imaginative way, playing all the guitar parts himself. I'd like to visit that alternate universe.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:39 AM on August 16, 2012


I actually liked the Unplugged version the first time I saw that show. I admired the man for trying to find a fresh take on something that he'd been playing for a couple of decades in that setting, and it worked pretty well. But by about a month later, I was so sick of hearing it... Never did get sick of the original though, because, you know, Duane Allman.

And Cookiebastard, I've long wondered what we would have been hearing from Hendrix if he hadn't checked out early. I kind of think that he would have taken a bit more of a jazz direction somewhere along the line, but who knows?
posted by zoog at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2012


colie, thank you for the reply! I love hearing the reasons for why people like music, and I'll definitely give the video a few more listens with those bullet points in mind.
posted by archagon at 9:52 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, I really love the vocals in the Wynton Marsalis video. And I learned from this thread that apparently I really need to check out Duane Allman's music.
posted by archagon at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2012


I too have "no idea." I think his playing (linked above) was rather meandering and unoriginal.

It is certainly meandering. When you say it was "unoriginal," what prior guitarist are you thinking of it calling to mind? I agree that there were several guitarists at the time who were reaching for essentially the same mark. I think Clapton came closer to that mark than most, but that he was not the best. But when you say "unoriginal," I'm just curious as to who you think the original was in the context of that particular performance.
posted by The World Famous at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"He said some really misguided stuff about Enoch Powell in the late 70s that folks like to point to and say "RACIST", but that was a long time ago and he was not exactly in his right mind back then. I think we ought to move past it now, especially since it's pretty hard to point to anything the man has actually done since then as an example of racism. "

I'm sorry, but his own statements about this rant since then have been dissembling and excuse-making of the highest order.

His main argument is that "I don't see colour and I don't care about race, so it doesn't matter; and anyway I was out of my head and just making a bad joke and who was listening anyway?" which is nearly as racist as you can get.

Stating that race doesn't matter to you is not an excuse for bad behaviour, especially since race matters a *whole* *lot* to the people on the receiving end of racist behaviour.

And sweeping aside concerns based on the "but I was joking" defence is something I'd expect from a child, not a grown man who should know better.

Let's be clear here: Clapton used language, in public, from a position of relative power (a rock show, with a microphone and thousands of watts) that was not much different from someone in the US using the word "nigger" under the same circumstances. He should be a little more contrite and apologetic about that.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:49 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Clapton kinda Mingus'd "Layla". I dig.
posted by therealadam at 10:58 AM on August 16, 2012


More on the Blind Faith solo linked above: This one isn't his best, but it makes it more interesting as a result to discuss his style, like a note in the margin kind of thing.

I think the 'meandering' is very much part of something EC did in his best solos. There is so much casual nuance and delicate use of the instrument. Only he and Hendrix were so devoted to that feel around this time.

I also have read that he was very keen to incorporate the audience's 'feel' into his solos around this time. Like many things around 1969, this must have started out as a good idea, but I have also read that at some Cream gigs EC was so out of his mind on acid that he thought he could physically transform the audience into good or evil creatures based on the licks he was playing.

(And he might well be a racist arsehole but you can't hear that in the playing).
posted by colie at 11:18 AM on August 16, 2012


I once made the mistake of reading Clapton's autobiography.

I had his 80s biography, 'Survivor', in hardback.

When I moved house around 1990 or so, I packed it with all my other books, and all my vinyl, into the back of my car. The car was broken into and all my books and vinyl were stolen (including stuff like first-pressing edition of Rubber Soul with my dad's name written on the label). The thief left me with nothing except the Eric Clapton biography.

So, you know, a sense of humour can unite even a thief and the thieved-from guy in these moments.
posted by colie at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, I'm certainly not advocating we stop listening to Clapton based on his dumb politics; this is precisely why I steer clear of biographies of the famous.

But excusing the behaviour is just not on. This is not a one-off comment that he made. We all have regrets, but Clapton has time after time refused to recognize the idiocy of his little "joke" and has essentially refused to take responsibility for it. While at the same time make excuses about his best friends being etc., etc., etc.

And he has done this well into an age where he should fucking know better.

He is a flawed and talented person. It's ok that I still dig Cream, but I'm not going to minimize or brush aside public comments he's made simply because of some notion of the statute of limitations on stupidity. Especially not since he keeps giving the original comments credence by not recognizing how utterly stupid he is being.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:29 AM on August 16, 2012


Your point is well taken clvrmnky. I have to say its been so long I had forgotten what he actually said and went to look it up. Ugh. It's much worse than I had remembered. It's frustrating that he has never acknowledged how awful the things he said were. It's doubly frustrating because to me it just doesn't square with the way he's behaved in his life. He's been a strong advocate for black musicians. He's worked side by side with them for years. It's a shocking kind of cognitive dissonance.

/derail
posted by wabbittwax at 11:58 AM on August 16, 2012


I have seen Clapton many times over the years. When the rest of the band shuts up and he closes his eyes and takes off on a solo . . . well, it is just friggin' magical. If you have never seen him live, you have no idea of his talent.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2012


The Layla sequence from Goodfellas
posted by jonp72 at 1:28 PM on August 16, 2012


Can electronic acts survive without the electronics?

Nirvana? Hells yes. Rapper L.L. Cool J? An out-of-the-park yes.


I remember at a point when I listened mostly to country, flipping through channels to hit on an Unplugged rerun of LL Cool J rocking out to that jangly piano, and I thought OH MY GOD THIS THIS THIS I AM A RAP FAN.

Then I investigated most of MTV's rap offerings and it was not...so...much...similar, after all. But I haven't sneered at rap since, even if the ones I like would still be 300% better rapping to live piano going nuts.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:14 PM on August 16, 2012


First, nice to see you on the Blue again DeX!
Now to subject at hand, I love the song Layla still, but did not know about Clapton's politics.
How could he hang with guys like Hendrix and still be like that? That's bad and wrong!
How did he avoid getting beat up over it?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:49 AM on August 17, 2012


From what I've read, Clapton did get beat up (at least in the press) over it. I think the arc of his reputation never recovered its trajectory, at least in Britain. In America, Enoch Powell seems pretty unknown and possibly no one cared.

As far as hanging with Hendrix and other people of African descent, I immediately jump to the what they used to say about Nazis - every one of them had his own "special" Jew. That's probably a little harsh, but I'm not apologetic about my dislike of racists - I think they deserve all the crap that can be thrown at them. In my own world, I know plenty of Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs who rail on and on about the horrors of an "other" group even after marrying one of that other group's members. (In other words, as when a Croatian who hates Serbs marries a Serb and still carries on about how awful the Serbs are, or any other permutation like that.) Makes no sense to me, but people have a weird capacity to make exceptions to an otherwise absolutist world view. I tend to think of these people as close-minded idiots, which is precisely how I feel about Eric Clapton.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:03 PM on August 18, 2012


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