The Story Behind ‘Tears in Heaven’

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

If you haven’t listened to the song ‘Tears In Heaven’ by Eric Clapton, it may be due to three main reasons. Firstly, you’re deaf. You’ve missed this wonderful song but you’ve saved your poor eardrums from bleeding by you listening to One Direction, Las Ketchup or Paris Hilton. Secondly, you don’t listen to music in English under any circumstances. Last but not least, you haven’t got a father who used to be a ‘disk jockey’ … yes, disk jockey. My father was disk jockey when I was in college, which has caused me irreversible damage including alopecia walkmania, Christmas depression or epilepsy selective damage. If you are part of a select group of people who love music in general and ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton in particular, mr. Marshall reveals the history and context behind the song that you may not have known and especially the relationship between Clapton and his son, Conor.

Eric And Conor

Conor Clapton was born on August 21, 1986, the result of an affair between Eric Clapton and the Italian model Lory del Santo when Clapton was still married to Pattie Boyd. As you perhaps might have expected, the relationship did not last long between del Santo and Conor went to live with their mother. Clapton recognised that in those early days he was not a very good father to his son Conor, because he did not invest as much time in him as would normally expected. This was due in large part to his problems with alcohol, so he decided to get treatment and not let him son see him that state until he was fully recovered.

One day, Clapton decided to take his 4 year old son Conor and his mother to the zoo at Long Island. Lory del Santo recounted in an interview. “I put Conor to bed. He was pretending to be asleep but when I went to bed, he jumped in with me – he was so excited about the day he’d had with his Daddy” The very next day, March 20, 1991 Conor and Lory were in a friend’s 49th floor apartment in New York. The apartment block janitor was cleaning the flat, Lory was reviewing a fax she had just received and the babysitter was watching Conor. During the 15 minutes Lory spent reviewing the fax with the budget for repairs, Conor began to play hide and seek. “I heard the nurse running behind him but as Conor entered the room where the concierge was cleaning, he stood by the nanny to tell what had happened to the window, a huge glass wall. In that second when he stopped to hear what he was saying, Conor ran right out the window. I heard a horrible scream, but it was not Conor, it was nanny . I went running into the room screaming increasingly hysterical ‘where’s Conor? Where is Conor?’. Then I saw the window open and I understood. I lost all strength and I fainted. “

Tears in heaven

Within five minutes it happened, Clapton came to the apartment and had to come to terms with the tragedy. In January 1992, Eric Clapton released the song for the soundtrack of Rush. According to account composer Will Jennings, when they wrote the song “Help Me Up ‘by the end of the film, Clapton said he wanted to write a ‘song for their child ‘. This song, ‘Tears of Heaven’, headed directly for MTV Unplugged shortly after its release and ended up winning Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal at the Grammys in 1993. In 2004 he announced that he would no longer sing the song because he “didn’t feel the loss anymore, which is so much a part of performing those songs. I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them. They’re kind of gone and I really don’t want them to come back, particularly. My life is a different life now…Maybe I’ll introduce them from a much more detached point of view.”

I imagine that after discovering the history of this song, many will listen in a very different way. So I’ll leave you to listen to the song on Spotify alongside reading the lyrics (and I don’t mind admitting that I welled up a little bit listening again!):

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
here in heaven
Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way
through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay
here in heaven
Time can bring you down
time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart
have you begging please
begging please
Beyond the door
there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more
tears in heaven
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
here in heaven

Second image right side in the gallery: Flickr Eric “slowhand” Clapton. F. Antolín Hernández CC BY 2.0 Some rights reserved

Spanish Version

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