Cream – White Room

Ginger Baker passed away Sunday, October 6th… Ginger was one of the best drummers in rock history.

Paul McCartney: Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the ‘Band on the Run’ album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul

Mick Jagger: Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer.

John Densmore: A drumming force of nature, Ginger Baker has broke on through. Emblematic of his influence, I put 2 bars of his reverse-beat in “Hello, I Love You.” 

Pete Brown wrote the lyrics and Jack Bruce wrote the music to White Room. He was inspired by a cycling tour that he took in France. The “white room” was a literal place: a room in an apartment where Pete Brown was living. It was not, as some suspected, an institution.

The music was written first. Pete Brown’s first attempt at a lyric was something about a doomed hippie girl – the song was called “Cinderella’s Last Goodnight.” Jack Bruce didn’t like it, so he scrapped that idea and pulled up an eight-page poem he had written earlier, which he reworked into White Room.

Pete Brown: “It was a miracle it worked, considering it was me writing a monologue about a new flat.”

The song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1968.

Cream in the 1970s… Pattie Boyd took the photo.

From Songfacts

This song is about depression and hopelessness, but the setting is an empty apartment. The lyrics were written by a poet named Pete Brown, who was a friend of Cream bass player Jack Bruce, the lead vocalist on the track. Brown also wrote the words for “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “SWLABR.”

In a Songfacts interview with Pete Brown, he told the story: “It was a meandering thing about a relationship that I was in and how I was at the time. It was a kind of watershed period really. It was a time before I stopped being a relative barman and became a songwriter, because I was a professional poet, you know. I was doing poetry readings and making a living from that. It wasn’t a very good living, and then I got asked to work by Ginger and Jack with them and then started to make a kind of living.

And there was this kind of transitional period where I lived in this actual white room and was trying to come to terms with various things that were going on. It’s a place where I stopped, I gave up all drugs and alcohol at that time in 1967 as a result of being in the white room, so it was a kind of watershed period. That song’s like a kind of weird little movie: it changes perspectives all the time. That’s why it’s probably lasted – it’s got a kind of mystery to it.”

Upon its release, Wheels Of Fire was given a terrible review by Rolling Stone magazine. They claim that “White Room” has “The exact same lines for guitar, bass and drums” as “Tales Of Brave Ulysses.” If you listen to both songs, they are somewhat similar, but nowhere near the level they claim. 

Eric Clapton used a wah-wah pedal on his guitar. He got the idea from Jimi Hendrix.

Clapton’s solo earned the #2 spot on Guitar World’s greatest wah solos of all time in 2015. The #1 spot? Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”

Why are the starlings tired? Because the pollution in London was killing them. Pete Brown also told us: “The ‘tired starlings’ is also a little bit of a metaphor for the feminine in a way, as well. It was women having to put up with rather a lot – too much pressure on them at the time.”

More lyric interpretation courtesy of Pete Brown:

“Goodbye Windows” – “Just people waving goodbye from train windows.”

“Black-roof Country” – “That was the kind of area that I lived in. There were still steam trains at one point around that area, so the roofs were black. It was black and sooty. It’s got that kind of a feel to it.”

On their last tour before the band broke up, Cream opened most of their shows with this song. When Cream did a reunion tour in 2005, they played it near the end of the sets.

Clapton refused to play this after leaving Cream until 1985, when Paul Shaffer urged him to play it while he was sitting in with the band on Late Night With David Letterman. That same year, Clapton played it at Live Aid.

This was released as a single after Cream had broken up. It did better in the US than in England, since Cream had caught on in the States.

In 2000, Apple Computer used this in commercials for their white iMacs. While the song does have the word “white” in the title, the subject matter is not good for selling computers.

Jack Bruce recorded a new, Latin-influenced version on his 2001 album Shadows In The Air. Clapton played on this as well as his new recording of “Sunshine Of Your Love.”

Clapton performed this in 1999 for the album Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live From Central Park. Clapton and Crow were an item for a time in the ’90s.

White Room

In the white room with black curtains near the station
Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves

You said no strings could secure you at the station
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows
I walked into such a sad time at the station
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning

I’ll wait in the queue when the trains come back
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd
Consolation for the old wound now forgotten
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes
She’s just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings

I’ll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

32 thoughts on “Cream – White Room”

  1. Ginger was one of those who joined social media, and it was him and his family; not an office staff, who interacted with fans. He interacted with Denny Laine, Billy Bragg and others who keep their own pages, sharing past memories of their collaborations like no one else could. I could post a question or comment on a story posted by Ginger, and Denny’s page would ‘like’ it. Same might happen if I asked a question on something posted by Denny. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, but I’m heartbroken just the same. The interaction was warm, and priceless.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I heard last week he was holding his own and was hoping he would survive this lastest battle. All I’ve heard is good things about his last years…not as cantankerous as he once was at a time.
      That is cool that he embraced it.

      Like

      1. He really did allow people to warm to him. And maybe he was always like that; who knows. The press loves writing about a bad guy. Social media, aside from all of its faults, does remove some of those filters for the better.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes that is true. I always thought in the documentary that the director egged him on a bit. It’s nice seeing all the tributes come through.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Baker was a fave drummer of my “Zappa” ex. He was also fond of Prairie Prince.

    That Sheryl Crow/Eric Clapton thing…I went to read about that and got tangled up reading about the UMG fire back in 2008. I wonder how the lawsuits are going. Crow & Clapton, both, lost material, apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard of Prairie Prince…he played with the Tubes some I believe. Baker was a great drummer…firey personality but a great drummer.

      That couple got my attention when I heard they were seeing each other…didn’t care about Pitt- insert name here… but Crow and Clapton yea…
      That was a lot of masters lost in that stupid fire.

      Like

      1. Yes he was in the San Fransico scene…Again your ex did have good taste lol.

        Off topic…It’s nice to have sleep!
        I heard from the other Saint owner…the 4 year old named Neil. It could happen.

        Like

      2. The one thing the ex & I agreed on was The Tubes. He was a big Tubes fan…met them, actually. I really liked them. I thought Fee Waybill had died but, I guess not. 🤔🤨

        Sleep is GOOD. 😄 Hey, the more, the merrier. ❤🐶🐕

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The Tubes were very talented…theatric and progressive.

        Yea I woke up and my eyelids still hurt lol….We will see. I would have to drive past Knoxville to get him…around 5 hours.

        Like

      4. Oh, GOD. I used to love Sevierville! Stayed there many times. My TNDL had a Sevierville address when I first moved there. Then, it was changed to our Knoxville address (Silveredge Way). Sevier County’s Seat. There is a bronze statue of Dolly Parton there. Neat, neat town. Or, it was back in 2001. I have been there in years. Beautiful area.

        It part of the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Driving up 321, Little Pigeon River…gorgeous.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It’s funny…as you probably know… Tennessee is divided up into three different parts. East, West, and Middle. They are all like three different places entirely. Each one has a different vibe.

        East is popular because of the tourist attractions , middle is popular because of Nashville, and west…wait no one wants to go to west Tennessee.

        That is a hell of a drive. I’m emailing him to see what is going on and if we have a chance. He is feeling us out I believe.

        That is cool that you lived there…I know it’s beautiful there. I never go there because we live in the woods and near mountains…though NOT as big as those.

        Like

      6. Heh. NC is the same way. You’ve got coastal people. The locals, if raised there, are the Hoi Toiders. They get invaded by the Yankee vacationers. You’ve got Piedmont people. We are in the middle. Then you have Appalachian mountain folk. Most of them are descendants of the Scotch-Irish clans…and they are still clan-ish. They are also invaded by vacationing Yankees. The only parts of NC that don’t match the normal three is RTP & Charlotte. Those two areas are full of International folks. They are like mini-countries.

        So, Memphis isn’t an attraction? I know it has a high crime rate but…Elvis?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Mini countries is the best way to describe it!
        Yea Memphis does get the Elvis seekers…”Thank you very much” … .but no one here recognizes their existence… and that is the same with them. Memphis thinks they should be the Capital of Tennessee…it is larger…Memphis and Nashville don’t play well together.

        Like

      8. Heh. Sounds like the microcosm version I live in, here. Chapel Hill is determined to tell Hillsborough what to do…and Hillsborough is the county seat. Chapel Hellions quite often demand that court take place there for their issues…instead of driving their asses north…where they belong. Sorry. The county attorney and DA are HERE.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. It’s silly really but there is a big rivalry between them. When the Titans came Memphis did not want them there even temporarily because they knew they were going to Nashville permanently. They had to go there before the stadium was built.

        Like

  3. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture taken by Patty and the eyes and body language of the 3 men says at least a thousand each. May Ginger rest in peace. He helped create some of the best rock and roll that’s ever been made. I adore this song, Ginger’s drumming, Eric’s wah-wah-ing, and Jack’s voice. The lyrics are sheer poetry, there’s no mistaking that! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not all but most of todays music…well some come from wanting to make a hit and money…Much of the older stuff came from the heart…they wanted to make a living to but you know what I’m talking about.

      Liked by 2 people

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