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Is “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton About a Disabled Man and an Able-Bodied Woman?

with 5 comments

by Treadmarkz,

Here’s a weird one.

I was flipping through http://www.songfacts.com and I came across “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. Songfacts is a site where fans can submit “facts” or, mostly opinions actually, and a lot of misinformation, about any song you can think of. Under “Wonderful Tonight” I found an entry from someone putting forth the theory that “Wonderful Tonight” (one of the greatest love songs of all time, next to “Layla” also by Clapton) was written about a man in a wheelchair and his able-bodied girlfriend/wife. Let’s analyze the lyrics to see if we can’t find a nugget of truth in this hypothesis:

“We go to a party/Everyone turns to see/this beautiful lady/walking around with me” – If the stress and focus is on the word “walking” it could suggest that the person she is with is not, himself, walking. But that is really suspending disbelief, so let’s move on.

“I give her the car keys/she puts me to bed” – This is about a man who is unable to drive. Not able to at all or just as a result of intoxication or fatigue? More and more disabled people are driving, but in the 1970s when this song was recorded, this may not have been so. And the second line may have something to do with a woman physically lifting the man from his wheelchair into bed.

That’s about all I see backing up the aforementioned claim. But the overall theme of the song is a man who is desperately in love with his woman, who “just doesn’t realize how much” he loves her. I am married to a woman who is not “disabled” in the usual sense of the word (She told me herself that she believes that everyone is disabled to some degree), so I can identify with that feeling, the desperation to tell that person how much their unconditional love means to you. However, I would hope that anyone in love has felt it that strongly.

And so, upon deep reflection on this matter, I think that “Wonderful Tonight” is just a regular, boring, good ol’ fashioned walkie love song. Case closed. I have spoken. Turn out the lights. Don’t let the door hit ya.

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