What’ll you do when you get lonely?
The opening line to a song with, perhaps, one of the best known guitar riffs in Rock & Roll history.
The song Layla was written by Eric “Slowhand” Clapton, during his early 70’s Derek & The Dominoes era. Eric’s bandmate, Jim Gordon co-wrote the tune and it has become a rock anthem, in the 40 years since it’s inception.
The actual song title Layla comes from 12th century classic Arabic literature. Later on, a Persian poet named Nizami Ganjavi rewrote the story, naming it The Story Of Layla and Majnun. The original story was something that struck a chord with Clapton (if you’ll pardon the pun) and the events going on in his life, at that time. He identified with the character Majnun, who was in love with Layla bint Mahdi idn Sa’d. Let’s be glad that Eric shortened the name, for the sake of his song. Here is a link to a version of Layla and Majnun: http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/V/V_23.htm
The versions of the story behind this song vary, but they all point to one person:
That person is Pattie Boyd. Wife of the Quiet Beatle, George Harrison. The lucky girl who had not only one exquisite song written for her, but a couple other huge hits, as well: “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton and “Something” by The Beatles.
Who does that happen to, in one lifetime? Three songs?…and one performed by The Beatles?
We were first introduced to Pattie Boyd in the 1964 Beatles movie, “A Hard Days Night”, where she was cast as a schoolgirl fan. There she met her husband to be, George Harrison, whom she married in early 1966. George and Eric Clapton were close friends and through Eric’s exposure to Pattie, he started falling in love with her, even though she was married to his very close friend George, at the time.
Pattie Boyd’s version of the story is that one day, after Eric had been trying to persuade her to leave George and come with him, Eric played her a taped version of Layla. Later that same night at a party, Eric blurted out to George Harrison that he was in love with his wife. Ouch!
Eric says that initially he wrote this song as a ballad, for Pattie. It was his attempt to persuade her to stop “holding off” and move in with him. Ironically, Eric was living with Pattie’s younger sister, Paula, at the time. When Paula heard the song Layla, she immediately moved out and felt that Eric had used her, to get to her sister, Pattie.
Eric’s wishes came true on March 27, 1979 when Pattie finally gave into Eric and married him.
Unfortunately, their relationship didn’t live happily ever after. After a tumultuous five years, Pattie Boyd left Eric Clapton in 1984.
Although Pattie and Eric’s marriage didn’t last, we are happy it attributed to bringing Layla into our lives.
Now you know the story behind the song.Reference Notes: Wikipedia Pattie Boyd – Wonderful Tonight Eric Clapton – The Autobiography wahiduddin.net