Tuesday, March 08, 2005
"Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton
Yay for sappy love songs that make me all teary-eyed. Eric Clapton is quite possibly my second favorite pop/rock artist of all time (Billy Joel just edging him out for #1), and this song is my favorite of his. A song about an ordinary evening party sets the stage for one of the most tender songs in all of rock music. The introduction is simple, a guitar playing a small solo line (mi re do re-mi re do sol- mi re do re, which is repeated with an extention on the second time through, adding mi fa la sol) a bass outlining our chord progression and drums keeping rhythm. This song only has two parts: a verse section and a bridge. The verse progression starts the same as our intro, moving I-vii-IV-V. This is repeated, then the third line continues on IV-V-I-vii-vi, then finishing the line with the traditional IV-V-I hook. then we have a small link, playing the second line of the intro again to pulls us back into the second verse. The vocals really are what set this apart from any other rock ballad. Instead of a "scream it from the rooftops" type of proclamation, it's much more intimate. Clapton is just pointing out all the little things that she does, showing that deep love isn't the love at first sight, it's the love that grows out of knowing every little thing that the person does. Clapton's very restrained vocals are the perfect answer to his first ballad about this woman (Pattie Boyd), Layla. Layla is the love at first sight, got to get you into my life kind of song. Wonderful Tonight is a mature kind of love. Anyway, enough about the background of the song. The second verse repeats the same progression as the first verse, then we move on to the bridge. The bridge is much more exclamatory, a profession of the love to the woman that he only hinted at through the first two verses. The progression is IV-V-I-vii-vi-IV-V-IV-V with a repeate of the final two lines acting as an extension, holding tension on the half cadence, before returning to the tonic chord for the repeat of the full introductory riff. The third verse echoes the first two, except now we have deceptive motion at the end, prolonging the cadence by stepping down I-vii-vi, before a final IV-V-I to finish it out. The song really isn't that long, but subsequent recordings get longer, as the introduction gets extended, or we add another bridge after the third verse before ending. I've seen him in concert before and he added a long guitar solo in the middle, extending the song from just over 4 minutes to well over 11 minutes! I just love this song for it's subdued style and beautiful melody. For some other artists this may have been a throwaway song on an album, but Clapton imbues it with this sense of tenderness and fragility that can't be ignored.
Posted by John Styx at 9:00 PM