August 26, 2008

Eric Clapton - Tears In Heaven

by Kathy Unruh

Though Eric Clapton wrote "Tears in Heaven" several years ago, it is one of those timeless, familiar songs that people love to hear because it provides comfort and healing when times are hard. I found myself playing this song over and over on my guitar after my mother died back in 1997. The words and music helped me to express my feelings and process through my grief.

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As you may know, Eric Clapton wrote "Tears in Heaven" after his 4½-year-old son, Conor, fell 53 stories from an open window. Eric was interviewed about this tragedy in 2003 where he said:

I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked...

Clapton also said...

I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.

Will Jennings collaborated with Eric in the writing of "Tears In Heaven", but he was reluctant to do so at first. He explained the situation this way...

Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called Rush. We wrote a song called 'Help Me Up' for the end of the movie... then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he 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. - Will Jennings

Conor's life may have been short, but it was not insignificant. Eric used Conor's death as an example to help create greater public awareness for children's safety. He said in a public service announcement...

Use guards on windows and safety gates on stairs. It's easy, and it could prevent a terrible tragedy. Believe me, I know - Eric Clapton

Eric's experience demonstrates that good things can come out of tragedy and misfortune. As he said earlier, music provides a means to alleviate sorrow and help a person persevere through difficulty. In his autobiography, Clapton, Eric admitted that he is now a man of prayer as well. So, it seems reasonable to conclude that if we combine the 3 essential ingredients of music, faith and prayer, we might end up with a pretty good recipe for a hopeful future!

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Kathy Unruh has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 25 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit:

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