Since the first time I listened to the seminal album Unplugged of Eric Clapton I immediately fell in love with the new version of Layla. It was the same song, but the somehow jazzier atmosphere given by the shuffle rhythm, and the fact the Eric sang on octave lower than the original version recorded at the time of the Dominos, simply gave the piece a new different light. And to be honest, exactly like many other acoustic guitarists, I prefer this version than the original. For sure in terms of energy there is no comparison with the version of 1970, but for what concerns elegance and style it is like the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly.
So it is no a big surprise that this song immediately became a sort of national anthem for all the acoustic guitar lovers and the acoustic guitar itself. Personally I was one of those teenager who used to dream open eyes about being able to perform all these beautiful rock songs, and Layla was one of the most fascinating. Every young guitarist would attempt to play it but particularly for beginners, I had started playing classical guitar probably a couple of years earlier, it seemed to be almost impossible. I still remember that I was absolutely shocked by the discovery that the chords progression of the main riff was almost exactly the same of Sultans of swing from Dire Straits, my all time favourite song. It was a sort of revelation, same musical harmonies but so different sound, atmosphere and musical flavour.
Since that moment I used to practice the song every now and then, in order to develop a personal guitar arrangement good enough to at least give honor to the song. We can simply say that the process has been longer than I thought, but after years of technical improvements and consistent practice, I can say that I am quite satisfied with the final result. Arranging a song fingerstyle is never easy, particularly if in the song it is already present a great guitar feature. This is exactly the case of Layla and for this reason, finding a way to preserve as much as possible the phrasing of Clapton’s guitar without losing at least the root note of the bass on the first beat of every bar, has been a great fingerstyle challenge. I hope you enjoy it