So often times great art seems to come from people in a great deal of pain.  You see it all the time with musicians…starving artists who put out phenomenal debut records, only to become mediocre once they start living comfortably.  Well, Clapton never became mediocre, but he is certainly at his best here on this record when he was in a lot of emotional pain.  Apparently this entire album was inspired by his future wife, Pattie Boyd.  The only problem was that she was married to his best friend, George Harrison, at the time (I never realized Clapton had so much in common with Black Cloud before.  Ahem.)  So he channeled his feelings into this record, and the result is fantastic.  Sure, eventually Harrison and Boyd split and she and Clapton got married.  And sure Harrison was cool about it and even attended their wedding reception.  But in the moment of this recording, Clapton was feeling the blues, and he got it all out in the studio.  I actually like this stuff way better than Clapton’s stuff with Cream.  That band veered too far into psychedelica for my taste, but this set is dirty and bluesy.  Duane Allman contributes as well, which makes for some pretty stellar dueling guitar solos.  I snagged this new for $13 at The Exchange in Willoughby last spring, and its been in pretty heavy rotation ever since.  I never quite realized “Layla” had a 4 minute piano coda before…I guess I must just have been familiar with the radio edit.

Other Lists: “Layla” is #27 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from its original position at #115.

My favourite track: “Layla”

Honourable mention: “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out”

Quote: “I got the key to the highway, billed out and bound to go.  I gonna leave here running; walking is much too slow.”

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