Cream – Badge

During my senior year in high school in 1985, I had their greatest hits. I wore it out and became a huge Cream fan. I went to an old music store a couple of years ago and they had an original 60s  Leslie Cabinet. Why am I bringing that up? That is what Clapton is playing through on this song.  A Leslie Cabinet (I have video at the bottom of the post) contains a rotating horn and was designed for organs, but many tried it with guitars. It gives an organ guitar a swirling sound. The Beatles used it a lot.

One of my favorite Cream songs. Badge was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In George’s handwritten lyrics he wrote the word “Bridge” as in bridge of a song and Clapton thought it read “Badge” so they named the song that. In 1969 Badge peaked at #60 on the Billboard 100 Charts, #18 on the UK Charts, and #49 in Canada.

It appeared on Cream’s final album Goodbye. This song is one of only 3 studio tracks on Goodbye…the rest are live cuts. Badge would be the only Cream song to include 5 people…in addition to Clapton, Bruce, Baker and Harrison, Felix Pappalardi played the piano and Mellotron. Pappalardi produced Disreali GearsWheels Of Fire, and Goodbye. Robert Stigwood produced their debut album Fresh Cream.

Cream were broke up when this album was released. Clapton was already working with Blind Faith. The did reunite for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993 and played 3 songs. In 2005 the band reunited at the Royal Albert Hall…the location of their last concert in 1969 and later in the year at Madison Square Gardens.

I will say…it’s hard for me to listen to the 2005 reunion. Clapton chose to play his Fender guitar and it just didn’t have the bite his Gibson SG had in the Cream days. I didn’t expect the long jams but I do wish he would have been a bit dirtier in his sound. The musicianship though was great.

Don’t study the lyrics too much. They don’t make much sense. Supposedly many of them came from drunk conversations with George and Ringo.

George Harrison: I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part, so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park

Hope I didn’t bore you all with the Leslie Cabinet information, but I really like them. In this video you will see how  it works and why an organ gets that swirling sound. A sixties model costs around $3000 and up. 

Back to our song of the day!

Badge

Thinkin’ ’bout the times you drove in my car.
Thinkin’ that I might have drove you too far.
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout the love that you laid on my table.

I told you not to wander ’round in the dark.
I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park.
Then I told you ’bout our kid: now he’s married to Mabel.

Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don’t you notice how the wheel goes ’round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down.
Yes, before they bring the curtain down.

Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh
Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh

Talkin’ ’bout a girl that looks quite like you.
She didn’t have the time to wait in the queue.
She cried away her life since she fell off the cradle.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

37 thoughts on “Cream – Badge”

  1. 1969 was an excellent year for music. Badge was but a few that led the way. The keyboardist in our band purchased a Leslie cabinet and used it from time to time. They don’t have much punch or volume, and his Farfisa Organ didn’t sound like a B3, so he returned to his Vox Viscount amp. The song has Harrison written all over it, and I had no idea that Paparalldi played and produced with them. Like you, the Albert Hall show was great, but Clapton should have played his 335 or his SG. His Strat doesn’t lend to their early music. When I saw them “back in the day,” he played his two Gibsons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess the Leslie would be best in the studio…I never thought about them not having volume.
      Phil I can only imagine how loud Cream was in the day.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They were loud, but not ear splitting like Zepplin. Jack Bruce drove the band with his bass, which was as loud as Claptons guitars. Baker, well, he was a demon on drums. Zepplin, when my wife and I saw them at Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, 1970, were so loud they cleared most of the first 10 rows. The folks stood at the back of the floor, they couldn’t take it, us included. It’s amazing that Plant and Page have hearing at all. Cream was a controlled loudness so that made the difference. Now you can buy a stomp box that re-creates the Leslie speaker to a T. I saw a band some years back that used a Leslie, but the speaker was mic’ed and pushed out front.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The lyrics are not intended to make all that much sense, as many of them were taken from drunken conversations Harrison had with Ringo Starr, although some of them could be about Patty Boyd Harrison, who George ended up driving away. Patty said that George wasn’t there for her, although he seemed to have plenty of time for other women. Ringo Starr was walked in drunk, and he contributed some of the lyrics by saying, “the swans, that they live in the park”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hands-down one of my favorite Cream songs. I love Clapton’s swirling guitar sound and how he used a Leslie speaker cabinet to create it!

    That clip about the Leslie, which makes the geek in me happy, would be perfect to add to my previous feature on the Hammond. That being said, my technical understanding is fairly limited. I still love watching clips explaining how music gear works. This particular clip does a great job!

    And that magic Hammond sound – always gives me goosebumps!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Leslie makes guitars Beatle-ly to me. I love tha sound. Yes the Hammond has that deep rich tone and yea…that swirling adds to it.

      I wanted to buy that Leslie so much but…way out of my price range.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Man, getting that Leslie would have been cool, Max. I would love to have a Hammond B-3 with a Leslie. Of course, I have no friggin’ clue how to play it, but that’s a minor detail! 🙂

        I’d put the gear in my living room just to look at it. My wife would finally declare me completely insane and who knows what would happen next!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah…yea that is just a minor detail! You would get that sound! I would play a guitar through it…constantly!
        Yea I got a Mazda RX7 car before….I told people if if broke down…I would just look at in the drive lol. I know how you feel.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Plus, as Hammond expert Booker T Jones explained, with a Hammond you need to hold the keys. I guess I could manage to hold a key or two, turn up the volume and get that Leslie going! 🙂

        And, hey, even though I suck on the electric, I can fake the riff for “Smoke on the Water” and it kinda sounds like it. At least, I’d probably get a swirling tone out of that Hammond!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh yea we both could fake it on the organ. You could rattle the walls just holding one key down.

        Just play a few chords on guitar and it would be that heavenly sound.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You just answered my question whether or not you bought it. I am a geek sometimes also and enjoyed watching the mechanics of it being explained and listening to how it sounds. Both of them sound good but the 147 superior and very awesome sound effect with the organ.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. It makes an organ really special… I’m glad you enjoyed it. I didn’t know people would enjoy that. It’s one of the things I keep hoping I find in an estate sale or flea market… I can emulate the sound with a box but I love having the real thing. I have sixties and seventies amps also… that history is fun to have.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the Leslie Speaker info Max. I never knew any of that although I was familiar with the sound when used with the organ. I must admit that I quite like the slow spin but the fast spin sound I have always associated with Mickey Mouse and have no idea why! Perhaps Disney used it somewhere. I much prefer the speaker when used with the guitar as in Cream. With the Leslie Speaker and the Clavinet I’m getting quite an interesting education!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wanted that Leslie but I just couldn’t see handing over $2500 or $3000 for it.
      I bet it was a swirling organ in a Disney cartoon or film.

      I do like how it sounds on a guitar.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great column ! My favorite “clapton” song from the 60s (perhaps George Harrison had the magic touch… I like other Cream and Yardbirds stuff but not as much as this song) … I never knew how it came to be called ‘Badge’, nor the role that Leslie Speaker played. Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not sure if I knew Geo (and Ringo) helped write it. I just went to wiki to see who played what and see Geo played rhythm guitar and also this note: Geo “credited, for contractual reasons, as ‘L’Angelo Misterioso’.) ” You know how I feel about Cream, both as a group and each musician in it. Great song choice to write about today — it’s a good’n.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lisa… I would have loved to have been at that writing session. Oh yes about the name that Harrison used… thanks for bringing that up.

      Liked by 1 person

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