“Lonely Years” by Eric Clapton
What the title of this song refers to is “five lonely years” the vocalist is tasked with ‘facing’. He never actually reveals what predicament he is in exactly, though from the onset we’re made aware that it is one which has him very much upset.
In the second verse he also defines it as some type of “trouble” he’s gotten into which he must “live with… right now”, i.e. deal with the consequences of. And in the final verse, it is also revealed that he is “leaving right now” on “a bus”, whereas he is set to “figure out (his) time”.
So it is very much possible that Clapton is portraying a character who is on his way to serving out a prison sentence. For instance, we know that prisoners are traditionally transported to and from such facilities in buses.
And with that understanding in mind, what the vocalist seems to be doing, most simply put, is acknowledging that he did something wrong or in the very least, as stated earlier, got into some type of trouble.
So now he must face the aftermath, as fearful as they may be, of that action. And what that is going to likely result in is him spending five years alone. So it is also possible that he can be talking about something like, say a serious marital issue, i.e. divorce or what have you, also.
Indeed the fact that Eric never specifies what exactly is going down automatically leaves this piece open to interpretation.
Facts about “Lonely Years”
This is a song that originally came out as a single during August of 1966 as a collaboration between Eric Clapton and a group he was affiliated with at the time called John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
But apparently it was never featured on an actual album until a 1988 compilation Clapton came out with entitled Crossroads. Then in 2001, “Lonely Years” also included on the reissue of an album that was originally released in 1966 entitled Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton.
Outside of that, information about this song is pretty scant. But what we do know is that it was likely produced by Mike Vernon, since he’s the one who served such a role on the entire Blue Breakers with Eric Clapton project, an album which itself has been placed on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
Also according to Wikipedia, the song was written by John Mayall, a musician from England who is even a decade older than Eric Clapton yet officially remains active to this day.