2/13/2005

Graffiti

Don't forget about Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival on PBS's Great Performances this Saturday, Feb. 19 at 9pm (UNCTV).

Clapton is a treasure. I'm making a resolution to spend more time listening to him, appreciating the gentle, powerful, potent, and genuine expression he shares through his music.

I'm doing this because I, along with everyone else, take for granted that Clapton will always be around, making great music without ego or fanfare. He won't. Clapton will leave us someday, and we're going to miss him when he's gone. I don't want to wait until then to pay tribute to his life and work, so I'm starting now.

Aside from my perennial weakness for Ray Davies, I try not to play the celebrity worship game. These are talented people who become part of the fabric of our lives, and we rightfully adore and value them for that. But in truth, we know next to nothing about them. I have no idea who is to blame for Jennifer and Brad's breakup. I don't know whether Lance Armstrong deserves Sheryl Crow. I don't know if Russell Crowe is really a jerk; nor do I know whether Michael Jackson is guilty or innocent. What I know about these people is only what I'm told by the media, and we all know that to be unreliable and incomplete information.

But Clapton gives us the gift of getting to know him through his music. He has dealt with the most painful issues and events of his life with pen and guitar. He has survived troubled love, drug addiction, and the horrible death of his 4-year old son Conor, and has shared the journey with us in songs.

The most astonishing example -- a gift, really -- is the song "Tears in Heaven", written about the death of his son, and his struggle with the grief.

Would you know my name
if I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
if I saw you in heaven?

Would you hold my hand
if I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
if I saw you in heaven?

Time can bring you down
time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart
have you begging please,
begging please.

Beyond the door
there's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
tears in heaven.


It remains one of the most haunting, evocative, plaintively beautiful songs ever written. When it won a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1993, Clapton simply said: "The one person I want to thank is my son for the love he gave me and the song he gave me."

I owe Clapton for that song. We all do. There's no adequate reciprocation.

Clapton recently became a dad again, his third daughter with wife Melia. Last year, like my boy Ray, he received the CBE from the Queen.

Tonight the Grammy Awards are on. There's sure to be a crass, irrelevant display of flesh and ghetto. The CBEs make me feel better. In some quarters, real musicians and musicianship are still recognized, in spite of MTV's worst efforts.

Remember: this Saturday, 9:00pm, UNCTV. The line-up includes Carlos Santana, Joe Walsh, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, James Taylor, John Mayer, and Vince Gill. And one humble guitar god from Surrey, to whom we are all indebted.

RELATED LINK: Pattie Boyd's photography to be exhibited in San Francisco.

Boyd was also a muse to Harrison and Clapton. Harrison wrote "Something" about her, among other songs; Clapton wrote the fiery "Layla" (its title inspired by an Iranian tale of obsessive love) about her, and later "Wonderful Tonight."

1 comment:

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