Behind the Romantic Meaning of “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

“Wonderful Tonight” is one of the most iconic love songs of all time. With its endearing lyrics and titular riff, it has become a classic not only in Eric Clapton’s catalog but in music as a whole.

Videos by American Songwriter

The song is one of a few songs Clapton wrote about Pattie Boyd. While songs like “Layla” see him yearning for the model from afar, “Wonderful Tonight” sees him in the midst of their whirlwind relationship.

How did Boyd inspire the lyrics to this song? Find out below.

Behind the Song

Clapton penned “Wonderful Tonight” in 1976 while waiting for his then-girlfriend Boyd to get ready for a night out. The pair were heading to Paul and Linda McCartney’s annual tribute to Buddy Holly.

Boyd told The Guardian in 2008 that Clapton was “sitting around playing his guitar while I was trying on dresses upstairs.”

“I was taking so long, and I was panicking about my hair, my clothes, everything, and I came downstairs expecting him to really berate me,” she continued. “But he said, ‘Listen to this!'”

He then began to sing the opening line It’s late in the evening / She’s wondering what clothes to wear / She puts on her makeup / And brushes her long blonde hair / And then she asks me, “Do I look alright?” And I say, “Yes, you look wonderful tonight.

Clapton and Boyd went on to marry on March 27, 1979. Their nuptials came a day after the rock legend brought Boyd on stage to sing “Wonderful Tonight” to her at his concert in Tucson, Arizona.

Clapton and Boyd’s Relationship

Boyd was originally married to Clapton’s friend and ex-Beatle George Harrison. They were together until the late ’70s, at which point their relationship began to crumble reportedly due to Harrison’s infidelity. Their divorce was finalized in 1977.

While Boyd and Harrison were still married, Clapton admired her from afar by writing covert love songs to her like “Layla.” The song was based on the 12th-century poem, The Story of Layla and Majnun. Being about a man who cannot marry the girl he loves, the plotline followed Clapton’s plight closely.

While separated from Harrison, Boyd and Clapton began dating. They were married for a decade, but their relationship began to falter as well, ending in divorce in 1989.

“Well, I was no longer Mrs. Famous George or Mrs. Famous Eric, so who am I? I am no one,” Boyd remarked to The Telegraph earlier this year. “No one knows me—I don’t even know me. I was at a critical point in my life, and so I saw a psychotherapist who was quite wonderful. She was amazing. She guided me out of this mire of despond and gradually I learned to believe in myself.”

(Photo by Express/Express/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Cody Johnson

The Important Message in Cody Johnson’s “‘Til You Can’t”