Pull The Plug!

The face that launched a thousand guitar riffs.

Now that the turkey is out of the way, you can’t possibly argue that we’re not finally in that joyous holiday season.  However, even that time of goodwill towards all men isn’t going to stop The Nest from doing its Scroogely best every Wednesday to be a musical sourpuss to songs that are almost as overrated as a Tickle Me Elmo.  It’s time to unwrap the next musical lump of coal in our Top 30 Iconic Songs I Can’t Stand countdown!  DJ Scratchy and her helper Sponkies are more than ready to smash this next classic record with last year’s fruitcake.  This Grinch is ready to steal some joy from one of the most beloved songs in rock and roll history…

#21. “Layla” – Derek and the Dominoes

In the early 70’s, Eric Clapton wrote a short little love song based on an old Arabic yarn that doesn’t involve magic lamps or caves with voice activated garage doors.  Named after the story’s featured damsel, “Layla” was more than just Slow Hand showing off how brushed up he was on 12th Century poetry… it was also a window into his intense crush on a certain Pattie Boyd, who also happened to be Mrs. George Harrison at the time.

She may look wonderful tonight, Eric, but you better keep your slow hands off!

Rather than have his guitar gently weep, Clapton instead had it scream out loud in epic fashion.  You know the famous opening guitar riff to “Layla.”  It’s one of the best ever, and even I won’t argue with that.  Props to Duane Allman after I besmirched his family name last week.  Go ahead and refresh your memory of those golden bars.  I’ll go hit the can while you take a listen to it…

Layla is eight seconds of greatness, two minutes of silly love song, and about five minutes of “Hey, we still have all this tape left, so let’s just keep playing our instruments until they kick us out of the studio!  Better yet… since the guitar player’s fingers are now bleeding after hitting all those killer chords, let him take a break and just play some piano elevator muzak for the entire last half of the song!  The people will love it!!!”

The people are entirely too easy to please.

Despite being a discombobulated disaster of a nightmarishly long song, “Layla” was a #10 hit in America in 1972 and apparently only got better with age.  Rolling Stone proclaimed it the 27th best song in rock and roll history last decade.  It’s the only reason anybody even knows a band by the name of Derek and the Dominoes ever existed.  “Layla” practically made this countdown just on its iconicness alone.  Just imagine where it would have ranked if I really, really hated it…

Yes, that’s entirely possible. Good guess!

But I don’t actually have an intense hatred for this song.  In fact, despite all of the original recording of “Layla’s” faults… what really put it on my radar for songs to target for this series was the fact that the very artist who unleashed this garbage on the world decided to record an almost unrecognizable version of it two decades later…

When Eric Clapton appeared on MTV: Unplugged in 1992, he performed an acoustic version of his legendarily ballyhooed hit….. and it was AWESOME!  I generally hate live and acoustic versions of songs as a rule, so maybe the later rendition of “Layla” is the exception that proves that rule.  It’s so different from the plugged in classic recording, that acoustic “Layla” is practically a cover version of the original.  It definitely outdid the annoying old standard that everyone mistakenly knew and loved, and made me like 70’s “Layla” even less…

That’s nice, man. Maybe I should give this unplugged thing a try too…. ya think?

I’ll return next Wednesday with another crappy song that’s got me on my knees…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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38 Responses to Pull The Plug!

  1. I liked this song… till gm used it for their opel commercial…such fabulous guitar riffs for one of the lamest cars? absurd… wish they had picked something from bryan adams ;o)))

  2. fanrosa says:

    It’s disheartening that you’ve yet to get me worked up beyond mild dissatisfaction, I didn’t realize our musical tastes were that similar….

    I like a lot of stuff in which EC was involved, but it’s not usually anything to anything on his part. Like, oh, I don’t know……AFTER MIDNIGHT??? (Cocaine, not so much. A week or so ago they were doing b2b of originals and covers and I got to hear both versions of Cocaine one right after the other. It’s amazing I didn’t go into a coma and end up in a car crash….)

    Anyway, back to the sitch at hand…. I have never cared for the original, kinda like the acoustic version, would not have any lesser enjoyment of life if I never heard either one again. Like that will happen, the station I usually listen to that is ’80s to ’10s starts Christmas songs on November 1 so I’m back to classic rock station for a little while longer.

    • Well, our tastes can’t be quite that similar since I don’t own a Pitbull CD and you don’t crank up music from fruity English club bands…

      I know you love JJ, but I can’t imagine he does a better version of Cocaine that Clapton. I’m guessing you came to that realization…

      Our Christmas station used to be the easy listening station… now it’s the 70’s/80’s station that’s my backup when the variety station sucks. How in the fuck is playing all Christmas music even a viable business decision. I refuse to believe people would actually willingly listen to that crap two days before Xmas, let alone the day after Halloween…

  3. Have loved the “unplugged/live” version since I first heard it – have it on a “best of” CD in my car and I enjoy listening to it frequently – especially on a long drive somewhere…..the original version was a snoozer after the first guitar riff just as you say but we all were hypnotized by it when it first came out – I do remember that much about the early 70s.


  4. crimsonowl63 says:

    I love both versions of the song. I will agree that the acoustic version is the better of the two. He was madly in love with Patti Boyd for the original, but they had divorced in 1988 and his son Connor had died in 1991. So he certainly was more reflective on the acoustic version. I really like Eric’s music but he is a racist so I’m dealing with that since I just recently found out. GREAT pic of George & Patti!

    • I had read that Eric eventually married Pattie a few years after the song, but didn’t go far enough to see if that lasted…. I guess it didn’t! Which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise since she already had left one rocker for another. That picture is such a telltale of its time… if you didn’t know who those people were, you could tell it was taken in the late 60’s just by both hairstyles…

  5. Piglove says:

    I loved this song like for the first million times they played it non-stop on the radio. Now that I haven’t heard it in a while, I enjoyed both versions above. XOXO – Bacon

  6. Derek and the Dominoes version seems a little like a rotten bastardization of the EC classic. The opening riff still screams cool to me though. Even if it gets played way too much.

  7. chattykerry says:

    It’s not my favorite but pales compared to Lady in Red…(now try and get it out of your head) BTW, I have tagged you in my latest post, feel free to ignore it!

  8. Merbear74 says:

    If you say anything bad about Kurt Cobain, I will have to kick you in your nuts, just sayin…
    Layla isn’t a favorite of mine, the acoustic version is way better, I agree with you.

  9. I saw Clapton live a few years ago, but it was a three hour blues set. Fantastic stuff. No Layla, no Cocaine. Wow. The couple sitting behind us left because they were simply disgusted. Their words, not mine.

    I have mixed feelings. I mean, what kind of guy sleeps with his friend’s wife then sings about it? And what kind of women does that? If you’re going to sleep around do it with someone your guy doesn’t know. On the other hand I love that long instrumental at the end. I always turn up the radio. I really love it. Needless to say I’m not a huge fan of the acoustic version. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone named Layla who wasn’t named after that song.

    Patty Boyd is also mentioned in a more recent song – St. Motel’s “For Elise.” Great song.

    • It’s OK to disagree with my opinion of this song. With this one especially, I was expecting more of that. As for what went on between Eric and Pattie……. well, at least it didn’t break up the Beatles!

  10. clapton rocks, always has, always will….. but the original bests the acoustic in my book, any day…maybe it’s one of those… “stages of life things ” !!

  11. I really love Eric Clapton. Okay, not every song equally, but unlike most of the artists of the period, I didn’t wind up buying albums for one song I liked, then ignoring the entire rest of the album. This is actually easier on CD than it was on records and for the repeat function on every CD, I thank the powers that were!

    • The first version I listened to for this post probably came straight off vinyl because it sounded a bit different, which is why I chose the remastered CD version. It at least makes a song I don’t like sound a little better…

  12. Ally Bean says:

    I love Layla. One of my all time favorites. I mean, Eric Clapton is god and she’s got him on his knees. This is a woman who has power– and the guitar playing ain’t bad either.

    • Even god is allowed to fall hopelessly in love with someone….. at least until the eventual divorce. While I prefer the guitar playing in this song to last week’s Free Bird, it just doesn’t come together for me for whatever reason…

  13. Ladybuggz says:

    Love the unplugged version, but Eric Clapton is pretty good anyway! Hey, not getting your posts in my email, so if I’ve missed one, it’s not on purpose! 🙂 I have to figure out why! hmmm….??

  14. draliman says:

    I’ll try again.

    Deep breath.
    You’re just picking on my favourite “old time classics, we’ll not see their like again” songs, aren’t you?


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