Flipped on the radio and it’s Loan Me A Dime and talk about nostalgia, like a foggy Sunday morning in Isla Vista, or late night hippie sounds on KNAC out of Long Beach way back when. This was the ultimate long playing FM song for a while, Boz Scaggs before Low Down, still in boots and jeans and a beat up cowboy hat. It starts out slow, just this side of a dirge, but builds into a rollicking piano pumping blues, and Duane Allman laying down lick after lick of the meanest Muscle Shoals lead guitar you ever heard for several exuberant minutes. You hope it never ends. But it does, finally, after thirteen minutes, fading out with the band still rollicking and Duane Allman still on fire, and you can’t believe you were lucky enough to hear it again because almost nobody actually had the album. It was just this amazing thing you heard on the radio, and it was hippie long, long enough to smoke a whole joint to. A big bomber joint even. And if the deejay then spun Voodoo Chile or Low Spark or that long medley off Abbey Road you know he’d been out back smoking that joint. But that was nearly half a century ago. This deejay today segued (if you can call it that) into a coked out Eagles cut and ruined everything. The vibe was gone, poof, instantly. Life In the Fast Lane. What’s the opposite of nostalgia? Because that’s what this was. Memories of being stuck in the mid seventies and looking like I’d never get out.
Was listening to part of Layla and Other Love Songs tonite for the first time in a zillion years. I was digging the music (I wore out my copy in my impressionable teenage days) but all I kept thinking this time was how the hell did Eric Clapton get so hung up on one woman? The dude was a rock star for crying out loud. There were chicks for days who would have thrown themselves at him. He would have been piled so high with female companionship it would have looked like a rugby scrum. Well, a miniskirted, gogo booted rugby scrum, but you get the idea. There were that many babes and he was a guitar hero. More than a hero, he was God. You could read that on the walls, Clapton is God. Do you think Brian Jones would have let that slip by? Hell, all the darling girls remaining after Hendrix left this mortal coil (if he were ever on it) could have made most guitar players very happy. Jimmy Page was probably thrilled. Jeff Beck probably insulted dozens. A good guitar player merely had to reach his carefully manicured left hand out. But not Eric. No, he wallowed in unrequitedness. And the unrequisition was his best friend’s wife. The wife of a Beatle. Bell Bottom Blues, he sings, you made me cry. His solo thereafter is utter perfection. You could hear all that unrequited pain. Sheesh. Like what was good enough for every other guitar player in London was not good enough for him. Nope, he wanted the unattainable (then, anyway) and moaned about it over four sides of a double album. That’s not a torch, that’s a bonfire. I mean I love my wife but if I ever got that drippy over four sides of a record she’d kick me out of the house. There’s no point in being pathetic, she’d say. But then she never did like Derek and the Dominos. She was a Sex Pistols girl.
Fantastic record, though. Why does love have to be so sad, Eric moans, like anybody cares, the band is so hot, the tempo so fast, Jim Gordon’s sticks dance across the skins and the guitar interplay with Duane Allman is wicked. About a minute in Eric just takes off, fast notes, Buddy Guy and Freddie King merging in all that self inflicted despair, when just past the one minute thirty second mark Duane Allman joins in and it is, it is, it is something. How do you describe music like that? You don’t, not in words anyway. You just listen.