Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Released: November 9, 1970
Peak: 16 US, 68 UK, 33 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.4 UK
Genre: classic rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by Clapton/Whitlock unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 76:44
4.673 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“Backed by a tight (but not showy) backing band” IGN Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs gave Clapton “his greatest album” AMG and made for “one of the all-time classic dual-guitar albums.” VH1 Working with Delaney & Bonnie helped Clapton “reconcile his spiritual connection with the American South that had given birth to Clapton’s beloved blues.” VH1 The Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs album was their only studio recording, but it proved to be “one of the few blues-based classic rock albums which avoids dull predictability or Led Zep-ish testosterone riffs.” PK Clapton reportedly told bandmate Bobby Whitlock at the time that this album would be the epitome of his career. JR-124
In 1969, Clapton had tired of the superstar status he’d achieved, thanks to “some of the most stunning, groundbreaking blues-based guitar work of the rock era” PK in stints with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Cream, and Blind Faith.“Clapton’s deification had become such a burden to him…that he felt forced to seek anonymity.” PR One of those avenues was to throw his hat in the ring essentially as a session player, working with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, the Crickets, King Curtis, Howlin’ Wolf, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, and others.
Delaney & Bonnie
“Considering its intensity, his friendship with Delaney Bramlett rather quickly cooled…The lasting creative and persona bonds he made were with the Bramletts’ sidemen.” JR-78 On Tour and Eric Clapton both featured keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, drummer Jim Gordon, and bassist Carl Radle. Along with a slew of others, they also served as session players on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, released about the same time as the Derek and the Dominos album. “In a 30th anniversary rerelease of his record, Harrison credited…[those four] as the indispensable core band.” JR-93
In 1969, he moved to the new Miami-based operation. In August 1970, he was working with the Allman Brothers Band on their second album, Idlewild South. He’d worked with Duane on some of his session work for Atlantic in Muscle Shoals. When Dowd got a call that same month that Clapton was putting together a new band and wanted to work with Dowd, Dowd said sure. When Dowd told Duane, the response was, “You mean the guy from Cream? Man, are you going to record him? Oh, man, yeah, I gotta meet him. Do you think I could watch?” JR-115
Duane Allman and his brother Gregg were just 4 and 2 respectively when their father was shot and killed in a robbery. He’d been a military man who’d been party of the storming of the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. JR-52-3 Duane “emerged from the shadow of his dad’s murder and the harsh experience of military school with a James Dean haircut, a give-a-shit look in his eye, and a smart mouth.” JR-55 However, he also had “charisma…such that when he walked in a room, it was as if somebody flipped on the lights” JR-55
Duane dropped out of high school, but Gregg toughed it out. The pair were playing as the Allman Joys by 1965 and released two albums as the Hour Glass in 1967 and ‘68. Duane then got a call to do session work with Wilson Pickett and later Aretha Franklin in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He also played with Delaney Bramlett and they even shared an apartment in New York. By 1969, Duane was back with his brother Gregg to form the Allman Brothers Band.
George Harrison and Pattie Boyd
Eric Clapton started hanging out with the Beatles in 1967 and “came to think of Harrison as his best friend.” JR-vii He even worked in the studio with the Beatles, lending his guitar prowess to the Harrison-sung “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Harrison also lent a hand in helping Clapton write “Badge” for Cream.
Unfortunately, Clapton also fell in love with Harrison’s wife. Boyd, however, kept it platonic, which was torture for Clapton and it came out during the recording of Layla. He was angry that Harrison took her for granted, devoting his energy to multiple affairs and quest for religious enlightenment. JR-98 Clapton “fantasized that he might win her over with the sheer power of his new music.” JR-xv They did sleep together for the first time in 1970, but she stayed with Harrison until their divorce in 1977. She married Clapton in 1979.
The Album Cover
As for the piano coda, it was performed by Jim Gordon, who otherwise stayed behind the drum kit. Whitlock was disgusted by the idea, thinking the song was already great and this felt phony. Dowd edited versions by Gordon and Whitlock together to form the final version. JR-131
Lyrically, the song was inspired by a classic Romeo-and-Juliet-like Arabic and Persian love story which dates back a thousand years. JR-x The story was passed down in oral tradition until 1188 A.D. and a poet named Nizami Ganjavi was commissioned to write a poem based on the story. It took him nine years to finish his story of Majnun falling for Layla. JR-xi When Clapton read the poem, he projected “himself into Nizami’s narrative and verse” JR-100 about unrequited love.
“I Am Yours”
“Tell the Truth”
“Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”
“Bell Bottom Blues”
“It’s a blues song…one that Robert Johnson would have been proud to sing.” JR-125 It features “Carl Radle ambling alongside in his calm, sure, good-humored stride” JR-125 and “Whitlock contributes harmony at times, but through most of the lines,he just jabs the keyboard and lets his partner sing with newfound confidence and power.” JR-125
“I Looked Away”
“Keep on Growing”
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”
“Have You Ever Loved a Woman?”
“Key to the Highway”
Clapton had plans to meet up with Hendrix at a Sly & the Family Stone show on August 18, 1970. Sadly, Hendrix died that morning, choking on an overdose of the powerful downer Vesperax. He never got to heard Clapton’s version of “Little Wing.” JR-136
“It’s Too Late”
“Thorn Tree in the Garden”
Notes: A 1990 20th anniversary reissue saw a box set comprised of a remastering of the original album along with a disc of alternate masters and a third disc of studio jams.
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First posted 11/21/2012; last updated 11/9/2021.