By: Renny Logan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Through drug and alcohol abuse, from this band to that one and playing one style after another, Eric Clapton has been making music history with his “slowhand” for 42 years now. Although Clapton himself has admitted he’s showing signs of wear and tear after all these years, he’s still making the same good music.
“I believe I can still play with the same amount of emotion, feeling and expression that I’ve always set out to do,” the guitarist said in an interview with John Blackstone of CBS.
On May 30, Clapton will grace Verizon Wireless Music Center’s stage.
After attempts with the Yardbirds, rock’s first super group, the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and even a solo album, it was Clapton’s release Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with Derek and the Dominos that thrust Clapton into the limelight.
Originally a blues purist, Clapton strayed from that path when he joined up with Cream. However, as any listener can hear, Clapton’s playing style would be forever drenched in blues influence, dripping with an emotional twanging that is unique to the genre. Clapton left Cream just as its popularity inclined to avoid the limelight, but he couldn’t hide for long.
The success of hit songs “Layla,” and “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” catapulted Derek and the Dominos straight to center stage. However, the band would not follow up the success as a group. Soon after, the members went separate ways, and Clapton spent the early ’70s in rehab.
He would not reemerge until the early 1980s, as a solo artist. During his solo years, he would achieve great fame, including being a double-inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as well as earning six Grammys in 1992 for “Tears in Heaven.”
Despite the ups and downs of Clapton’s career, his success with Derek and the Dominos would forever leave its mark on the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Track 13, “Layla,” in particular has had its share of fame, having often been referred to as the best-known song of rock.
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs opens with the medium-paced, easy-going “I Looked Away,” and hence sets the mood for the duration of the record. Any person with an affinity for guitar is sure to love the blues licks that Clapton slides seamlessly between each sorrowful verse.
The album progresses fluidly, one love song after another, each one as emotionally powerful as the other but with its own pace and story. It’s easy to drift as one song turns to the next, especially since the transition between songs occurs unobtrusively.
In tracks like “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Key To the Highway,” the listener can again here the blues influence in Clapton’s guitar. In “Key To the Highway,” a cover of blues artist William “Big Bill” Boozy, Clapton strums his guitar in the signature pattern of blues that even the least music-knowledgeable person could recognize.
“Layla,” of course, is always an amazing song. True, it gets played to the point of nausea and everyone’s pretty much heard it a million times. However, this distasteful fact can’t take away the eagerness a listener feels as the song’s trademark riff starts up and that first verse is sung: “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.”
Unfortunately, through all its songs of love and heartbreak, the album ends on a sad note with “Thorn Tree in the Garden.” Despite the tone of the finishing track, the album couldn’t end more perfectly, or beautifully for that matter. “And if I never see her face again/I never hold her hand/And if she’s in somebody’s arms/I know I’ll understand/But I miss that girl/I still miss that girl.”