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Lay Down Sally


Eric Clapton

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Marcy Levy, one of Clapton's backup singers, wrote this with him and sang on it. She toured with Bob Seger before joining Clapton's band in 1973. In 1988, Levy, using the name Marcella Detroit, joined former Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey to form Shakespear's Sister.
In this song, Clapton tries to convince a girl to hang out with him in bed instead of leaving. The song is not typical of Clapton's work, which is often based on The Blues.
This is the first track on the album. Depending on who you ask, "Slowhand" was either a nickname given to Clapton by the group's manager when he was with The Yardbirds (because of his laid-back guitar style), or derived from what would happen when Clapton would break a string on stage: the audience would do a "slow hand clap" while he fixed it.
"Lay Down Sally" is grammatically incorrect, as it would mean taking Sally and actually placing her horizontally. When asking Sally to join him in bed, Clapton's correct grammar would be "Lie Down Sally." He's in good company: Bob Dylan also ignored this rule of grammar in "Lay Lady Lay." (thanks, Bert - Pueblo, NM)
Eric Clapton once had his hand slammed in a car door by a member of the band The Blues Project. As told in Al Kooper's Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, during the landmark 1967 concert "Murray the K's Easter Rock Extravaganza," Clapton, Steve Katz, and Kooper headed out to a local music store between sets and were a little late getting back. Hurrying out of the cab, "Steve was right behind me and as he left the cab he accidentally slammed the door right on Clapton's hand! Eric began to scream in pain, and Steve turned around, ran back, and opened the door. Miraculously, Eric hadn't broken any bones or even punctured his skin for that matter. Steve felt like a jerk, however. Can you imagine that kind of guilt?"
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Comments (22):

Agreed one of his best songs, but grammatically incorrect. It's lie down Sally.
- mark, los angeles, CA
Clapton is a global nightmare.
- Randy, Battle Creek, MI
On January 1st 1978, "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton entered the Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 26th it peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 (23 weeks)...
And it was the Bee Gee brothers who kept Eric out of the #1 spot, their "Night Fever" was at #1 and "Stayin' Alive" was at #2 all three weeks "Lay Down Sally" was at #3...
It track three on side one of his 1977 album, 'Slowhand', the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
Two other tracks from the album also made the Top 100; "Wonderful Tonight" (at #16) and "Cocaine" (at #30, though it wasn't the album track but a recorded 'live' version that charted)...
Mr. Clapton will celebrate his 69th birthday this coming March 30th.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
One of Clapton's master pieces !!! Reduces tension and gives peace to your mind!! Clapton's a god!
- Manoj, Kharagpur, India
great song
- Samuel, peoria, Belgium
This number shows the "laid back" influence and approach inspired by Okies J.J. Cale and Don Williams. These influences can be heard in other numbers such as "Promises." The Cale connection goes back to "After Midnight" from Clapton's first solo record.
- Christopher, Winston-Salem, NC
They definitely mention clapping, Scott. Read throgh the part a bit more carefully, next time.
- Maxwell, Oak Lawn, IL
The way happywookie tells it is right. Clapton said it himself.
- Vincent Ferraro, Hesperia, CA
actually happywookie is right.
- Alex, Melbourne, FL
Frank from Canada is right. He was given the name "Slowhand" because audiences at Yardbird's shows would start a slow clap while he changed strings.
- Alex, Melbourne, FL
I heard this song was written about a women named Sally Dietz that Eric met through a friend and sat up all night talking to her. Is this true?
- Fran, Woolwich, NJ
In his autobiography, Clapton says he got the nickname because when he first started playing, he couldn't afford backup guitars, so when he broke a string during a show he'd have to change it on stage and he was slower than most people at doing this. Didn't say anything about the way the audience the clapped or the way he played.
- Scott, Boston, MA
Ive heard country stations play this before
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
"Ive been trying all night long just to talk to you"
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
Cool song..great lyrics
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
His style is opposite of Jimi Hendrix. Clapton would never play a wrong note, Jimi played wrong notes but twisted them until they sounded just
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
My cousin had a dog named Sally. Needless to say, he has uttered the title of this song many times. Rest in peace, Sally.
- Bill, southeastern part of, FL
this isn't the first song on the album slowhand. cocaine is, then wonderful tonight, then finally lay down sally.
- Steve, New York City, NY
Well, wherever the nickname comes from, I love how laid-back he is. These amazing sounds are coming out of his guitar, and he's just kinda like ". . . yeah. . ." So awesome.
- Laura, New York, NY
Just heard on the radio another story. When Clapton broke a string on-stage he insisted on replacing it right there instead of grabbing another guitar. The audience would clap the "slowhand clap" together while waiting patiently.
- happywookie, toronto, Canada
There is another version about the origin of "Slowhand". It says the name is an ironic reference to the velocity at which his lead breaks.
- Raj, Fayetteville, AR
Actually, Clapton received the nick name "Slowhand" because when he changed his guitar strings it took him longer than what is normal.
- Frank, Brandon, Canada
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