The Searing Comfort of Layla

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

I spent the summer of 1973 sitting on a blanket atop the scorched brown grass behind our Flint townhouse, yards of black cord connected my bagel-size headphones to our stereo inside. I watched my eight-month old baby girl sit and crawl and eat the brown grass while Eric Clapton’s Layla, the screaming, wild, knife in the heart, electric version, roared in my head.

Sometimes, after the seven-minute song ended, I would take off my headphones and go in the house to reset the record needle to the beginning instead of waiting for the rest of the songs to play. I loved Layla that much.

And I doubted my life just as much.

I’d wanted to be a mother, so much so that it had been all I thought about for years, convincing myself that one bad decision or another in my earlier, single days, would make getting pregnant impossible. But when motherhood came, I was at a loss. It was so constant. And it felt so diminishing. While my husband was at work, dressed in a suit and managing people and things, I was in charge of the backyard, too thick around the waist to button my shorts, not his fault, this is just how it was then.

But Layla.

The deafening sounds of Clapton’s guitar, the slide and screech, the gut of his voice, lifted me out of the backyard into the wild place of desire and longing and loss and passion that I’d forgotten I’d ever felt. And that made me feel like freedom was still out there, still possible, that my feeling stuck and anchored and imprisoned was momentary, not permanent.

So I would listen to Layla with the volume turned to the highest our old stereo allowed and I’d hold by baby girl’s tiny hands while she walked across the blanket, the afternoon sun blocked by our townhouse so the backyard was cool and shady.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees
Layla, I’m begging, darling please
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

-Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, 1970-

WordPress Discover Prompt #3: Song

6 Comments on “The Searing Comfort of Layla

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