“Layla” is a song written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, originally released by their blues rock band Derek and the Dominos, as the thirteenth track from their album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (November 1970). It is considered one of rock music’s definitive love songs, featuring an unmistakable guitar figure played by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, and a piano coda that comprises the second half of the song. Its famously contrasting movements were composed separately by Clapton and Gordon.
The song was inspired by the classical poet of Persian literature, Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, a copy of which Ian Dallas had given to Clapton. The book moved Clapton profoundly, as it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her In his autobiography, Clapton states, “Ian Dallas told me the tale of Layla and Manjun [sic], a romantic Persian love story in which a young man, Manjun [sic], falls passionately in love with the beautiful Layla, but is forbidden by her father to marry her and goes crazy with desire.” The song was further inspired by Clapton’s then unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and fellow musician George Harrison.