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Precious few of us will know what it’s like to hear a hit song on the radio and be able to say, “That’s about me!” If we do, we can only hope it’s not on a Beyonce track called “Uber Driver Smelled Like Piss.”
Even fewer of us will ever know what it’s like to have a former lover pen a top-40 song about our time together. Yet, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, such people walking the earth right now. These are the anonymous men who wish they had a platform to rebut Taylor Swift or Adele, or the unknown woman who tried to tell The Weeknd that he was probably having a stroke. It has to be flattering regardless of how you’re portrayed — whether your track falls into the “Your Body Is A Wonderland” or “You Oughta Know” category, at least you know you made an impression.
But within that select group is an even more elite subset of people who’ve gotten around enough that they became the subject of multiple hit songs, from different artists. This is the story of one such woman who inspired at least three of the most iconic love songs ever and is the subject of at least five songs overall (that we know of!). These tunes combined to sell tens of millions of copies and spawned dozens of covers — she is literally one of the most sung-about humans in the history of the species, and her name is Pattie Boyd.
Let’s start with “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, one of the most romantic songs ever.
It appears in shows and movies like Miami Vice, Friends, Captain Phillips, The Story of Us, and countless crappy Idol type shows. Every time it’s in a soundtrack, it’s to signal the deep infatuation between two characters. A more historically accurate use, however, would be signaling the love between a character and someone else’s wife.
See, Clapton wrote the song in the late ’70s for Boyd, his then-girlfriend. Reportedly, he was waiting for her to get dressed one night and instead of complaining that she should have started getting ready 30 minutes ago, he just wrote a classic song.
This was not a new occurrence for her, though, and her romantic history with famous songwriters was a long and tumultuous one. Years earlier, in 1968, George Harrison of the Beatles had written the song “Something” for his then-wife … also Pattie Boyd:
That’s “Something” as in “Something in the way she moves … ” aka, another of the most romantic songs in history. Harrison later changed his story and denied the song was for Boyd, but you would, too, after what happened next.
See, Harrison and Clapton were good friends at the time, which is why it was awkward when Clapton fell madly in love with Harrison’s wife. He even wrote a song for her. No, not “Wonderful Tonight,” this was still years earlier — we’re talking about “Layla,” the epic seven-minute rocker that, thanks to Goodfellas, you can’t hear without picturing dead mobsters in a ditch somewhere.
So, that’s another one of the greatest love songs ever. Upon hearing it, Boyd … didn’t care much for it, apparently, because she didn’t respond to Clapton’s advances, sending him into a four-year heroin binge. Admit it: How many of you out there are now sad that you never got the chance to know this woman?
It was only after that, when her marriage to Harrison had completely fallen apart, that she finally hooked up with Clapton. But wait, there’s more! According to Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, he and Harrison slept with each other’s wives in the ’70s and Wood wrote the songs “Mystifies Me” …
And “Breathe on me” about Boyd as well.
Look, let’s just assume every love song is about Pattie Boyd unless you hear otherwise.
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