Bray Studios was fucking ELECTRIC that night. When Clap sang “Tears in Heaven,” I cried so hard I popped a blood vessel. My wife tried to give me a tissue but I was like, screw it, I want the whole world to see what this beautiful bastard is doing to me.
So eventually Clap says, “See if you can spot this one.” And he starts plucking this innocuous little ditty that has most people thinking, “Okay, there’s a groove here somewhere.”
But those of us in the know are like, “Holy shit, that’s fucking LAYLA!”
This classic jam that used to push me to my absolute technical limits as an air guitarist now has a swinging swagger to it that’s got me stomping my foot like some porch front hillbilly. My wife is looking at me like I just punched a kitten, but what she doesn’t get is that Clap is single-handedly strumming me through the astral plane and I have no choice but to get so fucking lost in this version of Layla that I totally lose track of how much time is left on our parking meter.
Most of the rubes in the room don’t figure out it’s a cover until the vocals come in, at which point everyone cheers like an idiot and I let out a huge scoff. It’s like, “Welcome to this killer party I’ve been enjoying by myself for that last 35 seconds, you fucking morons.”
So now the whole room is into the song and I see a couple other guys doing the hillbilly stomp like me while other folks are doing a half-hearted clap-along and this one jackass is actually snapping his fingers with his eyes closed like he’s Quincy fucking Jones. It’s a great song with a killer groove, but it’s not a snap-along kind of tune, you present-day-Lumineer-loving dick.
So the song continues to transcend all planes of reality for another verse and a double chorus, at which point Clap breaks into the guitar solo, and that’s when everything goes to hell.
From the first notes, I can already feel myself making the “that’s stanky” face because he is twanging out some of the nastiest acoustic juice that’s ever been squeezed from a Martin guitar.
Then, shortly after the song’s three-minute mark, when he’s entering realms of guitar wankery that would make Robert Johnson buy his soul back from the devil because he realizes it wasn’t worth it, Clapton starts wailing on these triplet A-major slides over and over and over, and each repeated triplet is like a masturbatorial stroke urging the entire audience towards a collective climax. And as usual, I was premature. And alone.
He does one triplet.
By the fifth triplet, I completely lose my shit.
And I shout, “Woo!”
And instantly regret it.
You can hear my “Woo” clear as day on the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning recording, but what you WON'T hear is the sound of every head in that auditorium suddenly turning on me with daggers in their eyes.
What you won’t hear is my wife shifting in her seat as far away from me as possible.
And what you won’t hear is the sound of my soul shattering at the realization that I’ve forever tainted Eric Clapton’s ethereal moment of musical perfection with a pathetic ejaculation of “Woo.”
Even the snapper guy stopped snapping and gave me a look like, ”What the hell.”
The rest of the show is a blur. My wife couldn’t even look at me the whole way home. We were divorced less than a year later.
Like a butterfly-loving oaf who “just wanted to give it a hug,” I’d killed the one thing I adored more than anything.
But I’m not here to apologize. Because in this modern age of dickheads recording entire shows on their phones, I feel no shame for having been so goddamn PRESENT in the moment that I allowed Eric Clapton’s fingers to seduce an involuntary orgasm straight from the tip of my uvula.
No, I don’t need forgiveness for that.
But I’d rest easier if I knew Clapton wasn’t mad about the whole thing. So how ’bout it, Clap? Can you give my conscience a pardon? Won’t you ease my worried mind?