Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The personal drama behind the rock classic Layla, from the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos, is well known: In the song Eric Clapton expressed his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his good friend George Harrison. Eventually Harrison and Boyd were divorced, Clapton and Boyd were married (for a time), and the three somehow remained friends throughout. Less well known are the literary origins of the song: In writing the lyrics, Clapton drew upon The Story of Layla & Majnun by the 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. He first learned of the work when he was involved with another young woman, Alice Ormsby-Gore. "With her wistful quality and the Arab clothes she used to dress in, she was straight out of a fairy story," Clapton wrote in his 2008 book Clapton: The Autobiography. "This fantasy was encouraged by [playwright and actor] Ian Dallas, who told me the tale of Layla and Majnun, a romantic Persian love story in which a young man, Majnun, falls passionately in love with the beautiful Layla, but is forbidden by her father to marry her and goes crazy with desire." For another song on the album, I Am Yours, Clapton adapted the lyrics directly from the text of Layla and Majnun.