My SLS entry for this week is Tears in Heaven, a song by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, written about the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor. One of the most tear-jerking songs ever…
Theme: Tribute songs that were written in memory of someone
On 20 March 1991, Clapton’s 4-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment belonging to Conor’s mother’s friend. After isolating himself for a period, Clapton began working again, writing music for the film Rush (1991). He dealt with the grief of his son’s death by cowriting “Tears in Heaven” for the soundtrack with Will Jennings. In an interview in 1992, Clapton said of the song, “It was in the back of my head but it didn’t really have a reason for being until I was scoring this movie … then it sort of had a reason to be. And it is a little ambiguous because it could be taken to be about Conor but it also is meant to be part of the film.”
In an interview with Daphne Barak, Clapton said: “I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked… I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.” Jennings said:
[Clapton] said to me, “I want to write a song about my boy.” Eric had the first verse of the song written, which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release (“Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees…”), even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself. He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but to do as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs.WIKIPEDIA
The song appeared on the 1991 Rush film soundtrack. In January 1992, Clapton performed the song in front of an audience at Bray Studios, Berkshire, England for MTV Unplugged, with the recording appearing on his Unplugged album.
The song was Clapton’s best-selling single in the United States and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. In the United Kingdom, where Clapton is from, it reached number five on the UK Singles Chart, and also charted in the top 10 in more than twenty nations around the world. It won three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Tears in Heaven” 362nd on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.