Saturday, March 20, 1971

Derek and the Dominos charted with "Layla"


Derek and the Dominos

Writer(s): Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 20, 1971

Peak: 10 US, 14 CB, 12 HR, 8 AC, 9 AR, 4 UK, 9 CN, AU 100, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.4 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 6.0 radio, 225.11 video, 236.32 streaming

Layla (Unplugged)

Eric Clapton

Released: September 14, 1992

First Charted: September 5, 1992

Peak: 12 US, 7 CB, 7 RR, 8 AC, 9 AR, 45 UK, 11 CN, 7 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.23 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 9.0 radio, 6.2 video, 238.95 streaming

Awards (Derek and the Dominos):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Clapton Unplugged Version):

About the Song:

One of the great classic rock songs was inspired by Nizami, a twelfth-century Persian poet, who told the story of a love affair gone wrong in The Story of Layla and Majnun. HL In Eric Clapton’s version of the tale, the source of unrequited love was Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. Clapton never again sounded as tortured as he does here, even on 1992’s “Tears in Heaven,” which Clapton wrote about the death of his four-year-old son. AMG Oh, and Nizami’s version missed a key ingredient of its musical counterpart — “the most recognizable guitar riff in history.” BBC

Derek and the Dominos was a short-lived ensemble comprised of Clapton, members of Delaney and Bonnie’s band, and guitarist Duane Allman, who adapted the “incendiary, fiery riff that fuels the first section” AMG from Albert King’s “The Years Go Passing By.” TC

Also notable was Jim Gordon’s “serene, piano-based coda.” RS500 He was a multi-instrumentalist, but was best known for his drumming. This, however, was a piece he’d been working on for years, finally finding its way into “Layla” two months after the recording was supposedly finished. TC

The original U.S. single peaked at #51 in 1971. The next year, a longer version went to #10 in the U.S. and #7 on the UK charts. A decade later, it hit the UK charts again, going to #4. In 1992, the song emerged in a slower, live version from Clapton’s Unplugged album and hit AC and album rock. “It was an admirable reworking, but...[the] original recording remains one of the towering moments in rock & roll history.” AMG


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Last updated 10/28/2022.

Friday, March 19, 1971

Jethro Tull “Aqualung” song released as album cut


Jethro Tull

Writer(s): Ian Anderson, Jennie Anderson (see lyrics here)

Released: March 19, 1971 (album cut on Aqualung)

First Charted: --

Peak: 1 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 29.4 video, 90.47 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Jethro Tull formed in 1967 in England. They started by playing a mix of blues, rock, jazz, folk, and even classical. By 1971’s Aqualung, they “became more complex and progressive.” HL Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson was also emerging as the band’s undisputed leader as new key players, including guitarist Martin Barre were coming on board to replace the original lineup. HL While it was the group’s fourth top-10 in the UK, it was a huge leap forward for them commercially in the U.S. as their first top-10 album and only platinum seller (three times over).

The album was also “a loosely conceptual work…[that] heralded the direction the band would take during much of the 1970s.” HL In addition, the band’s “direction was becoming more and more song centric, and Anderson’s words more bitingly social.” HL The album found him “firing off against religion, homelessness, and other attendant ills of society.” HL

On the album’s title cut, Anderson and his then-wife Jennie “built up a powerful image of what it was like to be out on the streets in winter.” HL The lyrics were based on actual photos she took of transient men. SF The song also painted a slightly romanticized notion of this homeless tramp as “a free spirit, who either won’t or can’t join in society’s prescribed formats.” WK Anderson clearly “saw himself in the character,” HL something reinforced by the Burton Silverman oil painting on the album cover which “depicted a derelict in a dirty old raincoat.” HL

The name of the character – and the song’s title – presumably came from the sound of the “rasping wheezing coming from his disease-wracked body.” HL As author Dave Thompson said, this is “not really a song about the diver’s greatest friend, but a lament for a man who sounds like he’s wearing one.” DT

The song was never released as a single. Ian Anderson explained that “it was too long, it was too episodic; it starts off with a loud guitar riff and then goes into rather more laid back acoustic stuff.” SF The song did become a staple at classic rock radio. Anderson said, “Radio sharply divided between AM radio, which played the 3-minute pop hits, and FM radio where they played what they called deep cuts…the obscure, the longer, the more convoluted songs.” SF


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First posted 4/10/2023.