It was fall of 2010, when I decided to delve into the annals of rock music and I came across Derek and the Dominoes, a short-lived rock outfit fronted by the one and only Eric Clapton. My musical initiation to Clapton started with “Tears in Heaven” and his life performance on MTV’s unplugged back in the good ole’ days when MTV still showed music. From that point on, I was introduced to The Yardbrids and the band that truly brought him to fame Cream. But I had yet to come across Derek and the Dominoes.
My parents are not huge fans of rock music, so I was left up to my own devices when it came to researching music and I was happy I did. Derek and the Dominoes only album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, features the stylistic playing of the late, great Duane Allman, after a serendipitous meeting of him and Clapton in 1969. While my knowledge of the specifics of musicality is limited, I just know that this album sounds amazing to my ears and it still holds up over 40 years later.
And while the album is still amazing, it is “Bell Bottom Blues” that truly evokes an emotional response every time I hear it. Maybe it is Clapton’s wailings about not wanting to play the game or perhaps it is the way the guitar so seamlessly sounds like human vocals lamenting lost love, but this song is a near perfect. It is heartfelt and honest, with just the right amount of self-deprecation that borders on desperation. Listening to this time and time again really makes me want to explore music as a form of expression. It is songs like this that make me happy to be alive. Something about it sounds so obviously 70s—see allusion to bell bottoms—but it is still timeless. Fashion may be capricious, but songs like this never lose their style.