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The Song That Changed Your Life

Layla by Ann Sarich

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube.

Back when bars smelled like house fires you could barely see your friends amid the blue haze of cigarettes. Jostling for last seat in an overcrowded pub I glanced at a stranger coming toward me.

“I have looked for her all my life and I think she's you,” said the stranger.

“Layla,” he said.

“Derek and the Dominoes?” I asked.

He smiled. “You didn't say Eric Clapton.”

I was proud of my music trivia knowledge. Proud that I knew it was the late, great Duane Allman who played guitar on that album.

It was very early 1990s, grunge was big, hip-hop was getting airplay and classic rock stations were becoming the real alternative. You couldn't download your favorite song, just wait for it to come on the air. The great sixties and seventies bands ruled the airwaves of the small town radio stations. Bands that  had albums that were like kingdoms, you just had to enter and yield to their power.

The stranger's voice was so deep and resonant, almost like he was giving a sermon in the last place you'd find God. His face was so emotional when he told of the pain Clapton felt, in love with his best friend's wife, then spiraling into a life of addiction. The stranger looked like a rock star. He had the requisite swagger that was a mix of charm and brutality. He softened when he spoke of a broken man who immortalized this woman.

I was a child when I first heard the song, and even then I understood the passion that hit you with that first note. A cautionary tale. Twin guitars heralding your entry  into the kingdom of the dark side of love. Even the knowing eye of the album cover painting “La Fille au Bouquet” hinted at it. The piano coda was a soothing reminder that life does go on.

I married the intriguing stranger and we had many tumultuous years. I am ready to love again.

When I hear the song it reminds me that I will truly only be one man's Layla.

Ann Sarich is from Sault Ste-Marie, ON.

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