What better moment to write about British guitarist and singer Eric Clapton than after the end of his 2019 World Tour. At 74 years of age, this artist remains one of the most influential guitarists, singers and songwriters of all time. That’s why we want to devote our monthly article to discuss one of his most famous songs, ‘Tears in Heaven’, which he wrote along with Will Jennings.
This song was first featured on the 1991 movie ‘Rush’, so one could think it drew inspiration from the movie script. Most listeners would also think it’s an extremely sad song about the death of his son Conor, who fell out of a hotel window in New York City, but it goes way beyond that and the movie was just the catalyst for it to be released into the world.
Eric Clapton did write this song for it to be part of the soundtrack for this movie, but he wrote it at a time when he was coping with a great deal of grief, so it was also meant to be a way for him to channel his emotions. As a matter of fact, in one of his interviews, he claimed it wasn’t even meant to be a sad song, but rather a message of optimism and reunion with his loved ones. Conor was born from a relationship between Clapton and Italian actress and model Lory Del Santo. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to spend much time with his son before the accident, and he didn’t seem to consider himself fit for fatherhood. Therefore, this song is not only about his son remembering him in heaven. He also wonders whether his son will know who he really is, despite the missed opportunities and the fact that he didn’t get to spend quality time with him and build a tight relationship.
It’s also a song about regret as the second verse shows: ‘cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven’. From these words, one may interpret that he deems himself unworthy of going to heaven because of the bad decisions he’s made in his life. He also asks Conor whether he’d hold grudges against him, or he’d forgive him and hold his hand.
By the end of the song, he’s experienced all the stages of grief, and he finds solace in the thought that his son is probably no longer suffering past the gates of heaven.
Eric also wrote other songs about loss, such as ‘Signe’, ‘Circus’ or ‘My Father’s Eyes’, but this one remains the most famous one, having won him 3 grammys for Record of the Year, Song Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
I think the moral of the song is that we must seize every moment that we get with our loved ones while we still can. Do you think they will recognize you when they see you in heaven? I guess we won’t know until we cross that bridge, but we must go on trying to live our lives the best we can without losing hope in the future.