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

Cream – I’m So Glad

I’m So Glad appeared on Cream’s debut album Fresh Cream. Cream covered this song and did something that other bands (looking at you Led Zeppelin) should have done. The writer of the song was Skip James an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter who was born in 1902. Cream went out of their way to make sure that Skip received royalties off of the song.

Because of Cream’s diligence, James had at least some comfort in his last days. Skip had the opportunity to see Cream perform his song on stage before he succumbed to cancer in 1969 but his widow sent a thank you letter to Jack Bruce for covering his song.

The song didn’t chart but the album did at #39 in 1968.

I’m So Glad

[Chorus:]
I’m so glad
I’m so glad
I’m glad, I’m glad, I’m glad 

Don’t know what to do
Don’t know what to do
Don’t know what to do

Tired of weeping
Tired of moaning
Tired of groaning for you

[Chorus]

Tired of weeping 
Tired of moaning
Tired of groaning for you

[Chorus: x8]

Cream – Strange Brew

Great guitar lick and song. The song was based on an old blues song by  Buddy Moss called Hey Lawdy Mama that Cream recorded. Eric Clapton took the lead vocal in this one. They reworked the song and the writing credits went to Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins and Eric Clapton.

The song didn’t chart in the Billboard 100 but made it to #17 in the UK charts. A great classic Cream song.

From Songfacts.

When Cream performed the early version of this song as “Lawdy Mama,” Clapton and bass player Jack Bruce would share lead vocals. The band recorded both “Lawdy Mama” and “Strange Brew” at Atlantic Studios in New York on April 3, 1967. The band had spent the previous week in the city, performing daily at the “Music In The Fifth Dimension” show at the RKO Theater. These shows were organized by the influential disc jockey Murray the K, and provided great exposure for Cream in America. Other acts on the bill for some of these shows: The Who, Wilson Pickett and the Lovin’ Spoonful. Cream would complete the Disraeli Gears album when they returned to the United States the next month.

The lyrics refer to a female, which could mean drugs or be a more literal reference to a woman. Either way, she is “killing what’s inside of you.”

Cream had a very psychedelic sound, and this song was released in the Summer of Love, where it fit in quite well.

To craft “Strange Brew,” producer Felix Pappalardi added Eric Clapton’s vocal to a take of the band’s recording of “Lawdy Mama,” which appears as a bonus track on the 2004 re-release of Disraeli Gears, but didn’t make the original album. Jack Bruce wasn’t happy about this, especially since he wasn’t able to re-record his bassline. To keep the tenuous peace in the band during Cream’s reunion concerts in 2005, “Strange Brew” was omitted from their 19-song playlist, despite being one of their best known and loved songs.

Clapton got the idea for the album title after a roadie named Mick Turner told him about the derailleur gears on his bicycle. Derailleur, pronounced “Di-rail-yer,” are the kind of gears commonly found on 10-speed bikes. The roadie pronounced it “Disraeli,” which led to the title.

On Eric Clapton’s Crossroads boxed set, this is placed next to “Lawdy Mama,” the Blues song it is based on.

Strange Brew

Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.

She’s a witch of trouble in electric blue,
In her own mad mind she’s in love with you.
With you.
Now what you gonna do?
Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.

She’s some kind of demon messing in the glue.
If you don’t watch out it’ll stick to you.
To you.
What kind of fool are you?
Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.

On a boat in the middle of a raging sea,
She would make a scene for it all to be
Ignored.
And wouldn’t you be bored?
Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.

Strange brew, strange brew, strange brew, strange brew.
Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you

Cream – Badge

One of my favorite Cream songs. Badge was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In Georges handwritten lyrics he wrote the word “Bridge” as in bridge of a song and Clapton that it was “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.”… Ringo Star threw in a line also.

George Harrison on writing Badge with Clapton

I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that GoodbyeCream 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 [Starr] walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park

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.

Cream – Anyone For Tennis

I had just graduated and I had heard a lot of Cream before but it was a spring day and I had a new cassette of them in my car…I heard this song with the windows down and at first, I thought…no this can’t be Cream. It grew on me and I love the song. I like when a band does something different. After blitzing audiences with Crossroads, Whiteroom, Sunshine of Your Love, and Strange Brew…out comes this song. It’s not my favorite Cream song…that would be Badge but this one always makes me smile.

The song was written by Eric Clapton and Martin Sharp for the movie “Savage Seven.” It reached #64 on the Billboard Charts in America in 1968.

Unfortunately, this was nearing the end of Cream’s run.

Cream appeared on the Smothers Brothers and mimed this song. Who the hell knows what it means but when I heard “And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice. Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?” I was hooked. It’s hard to get it out of your head once you listen to it.

Twice upon a time in the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the ice creams are all melting on the streets of bloody beer
While the beggars stain the pavements with fluorescent Christmas cheer
And the Bentley driving guru is putting up his price.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the prophets in the boutiques give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales and blind colliding scopes
And you can tell they’re all the same underneath the pretty lies.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

The yellow Buddhist monk is burning brightly at the zoo
You can bring a bowl of rice and then a glass of water too
And fate is setting up the chessboard while death rolls out the dice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?