Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images
Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images

Layla in Real Life: 10 Songs Written About Pattie Boyd

Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images
Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd was working as a model and actress in the early 1960s when she was cast as a schoolgirl in Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (1964). Though she had just a single word of dialogue—"Prisoners?"—it was the role that changed her life, as it was on the set of that classic Beatles movie that she met George Harrison, and began a journey that would lead to her becoming one of the most important muses in rock and roll history.

Harrison and Boyd married two years later, but the beloved Beatle wasn't the only iconic rock star who was vying for Boyd's attention, and putting pen to paper to craft songs about her. Guitar deity Eric Clapton, one of Harrison's best friends, also fell madly in love with Boyd, and wrote much of Derek and the Dominos' 1970 album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, about Boyd and his forbidden love.

Boyd and Harrison eventually divorced in 1977, but not before she had a brief fling with future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. In 1979, Clapton got his Layla when he and Boyd married, though even that didn't last. The couple divorced a decade later, and in 2015, Boyd married for a third time—to property developer Rod Weston, whom she had met in the late 1980s. Weston, as far as anyone knows, is neither a songwriter nor an instrumentalist. But the string of hits that Boyd inspired are still some of the most iconic songs in music history.

1. THE BEATLES // "I NEED YOU" (1965)

"I Need You" was only the second song written by Harrison to make it onto a Beatles album, which in this case was 1965's Help! Notably, during the February 15, 1965 recording session, Ringo Starr played on the back of an acoustic guitar while John Lennon played the snare drum on beats two and four throughout the track.

2. THE BEATLES // "SOMETHING" (1969)

Harrison grew as a songwriter between Help! and 1969's Abbey Road, during which his tunes were clearly about police ("Piggies"), the government ("Think For Yourself", "Taxman"), or generally about the human condition (of "I Want to Tell You," Harrison said that it was about "the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit."). However Harrison, according to Boyd, said "Something" was about her in a "matter-of-fact way." In her memoir, Wonderful Tonight, Boyd also revealed that Harrison's favorite cover of the song—of which there are hundreds—was James Brown's. Her favorite version was George's, when he played it for her in their kitchen. In 1980, Harrison said that he had first written "Something" on the piano during the making of The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).

3. THE BEATLES // "FOR YOU BLUE" (1970)

Harrison would, predictably, only have one sentence to say about his Let It Be contribution. "'For You Blue' is a simple 12-bar song following all the normal 12-bar principles, except that it's happy-go-lucky!" Still, it's widely considered to be about Boyd. Lennon used a shotgun shell as his slide when he played the lap steel guitar on this song.

4. DEREK AND THE DOMINOS // "LAYLA" (1970)

Clapton used Derek and the Dominos' lone studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, as a more than 77-minute declaration of love to Pattie Boyd Harrison. The name "Layla" came from the fifth-century Arabian poem-turned-book The Story of Layla and Majnun, adapted by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. A mutual friend gave copies to both Clapton and Boyd. It was about forbidden love. Clapton secretly met with Boyd one afternoon in a South Kensington flat and played the song for her off of his tape machine. Boyd wrote that it was "the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard" and noted that Clapton had identified with Majnun and was determined to know how she felt. Boyd went home to Harrison, at least on that day.

5 AND 6. RONNIE WOOD // "MYSTIFIES ME" (1974) AND "BREATHE ON ME" (1975)

"Mystifies Me" was on Wood's solo record I've Got My Own Album to Do, while he was still a member of the band Faces, and was released one year before he joined the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, along with George Harrison, helped with some of the writing and performing). Wood had "sort of a warped rock star wife swap" in which he had an affair with Boyd and Harrison had an affair with Wood's first wife, Krissie Findley. Wood wrote in his autobiography that he had actually "pinched" Findley from Eric Clapton to begin with, further complicating things, and knew full well Clapton was in love with Boyd. Wood and Boyd enjoyed a holiday in the Bahamas.

"Breathe on Me" was released on Wood's next solo album, Now Look, and reimagined on his 1992 effort Slide on This. Harrison and Wood would later joke about the wife swapping.

7. GEORGE HARRISON // "SO SAD" (1974)

"So Sad," off of Harrison's 1974 album Dark Horse, is regarded as the only Harrison work about the marital problems between him and Boyd. The album was released the same year they separated; their divorce was finalized in 1977.

8. ERIC CLAPTON // "WONDERFUL TONIGHT" (1977)

Clapton and Boyd eventually got together. In her book, Boyd recalled one incident in which she spent hours deciding on which dress to wear for a night out, while Clapton waited in the other room, playing his guitar all the while. Inspired by the country singer Don Williams, who wrote "beautifully simple" lyrics about quotidian events, Clapton came up with the chorus to "Wonderful Tonight" while he waited. When Boyd finally came downstairs and asked him if she looked alright, he played her what he had just written.

9. ERIC CLAPTON // "SHE'S WAITING" (1985)

"She's Waiting" was released on 1985's Behind the Sun, an album Warner Bros. forced Clapton to tinker with a bit because his initial interpretation of the project was not commercial enough for the record company. "They said it had no singles and no relevance to anything else that was out there, and I needed to wake up and get with what’s going on," Clapton remembered. Since the song was released one year after Clapton and Boyd separated, and features the lyrics, "She's waiting for another love" and "Get ready now, 'cause pretty soon/She'll be gone and you'll be on your own" have strongly indicated to rock critics that it's about Mrs. Boyd-Harrison-Clapton.

10. ERIC CLAPTON // "OLD LOVE" (1989)

Clapton and Boyd officially divorced in 1988. In a letter from New York, Clapton wrote to Boyd saying he was working on an album (Journeyman) with Harrison and had written a song about her. "I think it will be the best one on the album," he claimed. "It's called 'Old Love,' don't be offended, it's not about you being old, it's about love getting old, and it's great, well, you'll see it when you hear it." In 2008, Boyd told The Guardian she didn't think it was so awesome. "The end of a relationship is a sad enough thing, but to then have Eric writing about it as well. It makes me more sad, I think, because I can't answer back."

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC

At its best, San Diego Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’s Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY


John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of 2016 and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Just a few months later, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios