Cream - "Badge" (1969)
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Published on Apr 24, 2012
"Badge" is a song performed by Cream, written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. It was included as a track on Cream's final album, Goodbye. Peaking at number 60 on Billboard's Hot 100, "Badge" was a minor hit after its release as a single in April 1969. The single was much more successful in the United Kingdom, where it reached #18.
"Badge" was originally an untitled track. During the production transfer for the album Goodbye, the original music sheet was used to produce the liner notes and track listing. The only discernible word on the page was "bridge" (indicating the song's bridge section). Due to Harrison's handwriting, however, Clapton misread it as "badge" — and the song was titled soon thereafter.
Harrison remembered the story differently: "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."
A common legend or misconception is that the name came about because its chord progression is B-A-D-G-E (it is not), or simply because an anagram of a guitar's standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) can be arranged to spell "Badge".
Eric Clapton -- lead guitar and vocals
Jack Bruce -- bass guitar and backing vocals
Ginger Baker -- drums
Felix Pappalardi -- piano and mellotron
George Harrison (credited, for contractual reasons, as "L'Angelo Misterioso") -- rhythm guitar
This was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. Harrison, who is listed on the album as "L'Angelo Misterioso," also played rhythm guitar on this, since Cream had only one guitarist: Clapton.
The title has nothing to do with the song. Clapton saw Harrison's notes for this, and misread "Bridge" as "Badge." He thought this is what Harrison named the song, so they used it for the title.
The lyrics are not intended to make sense. Many of them were taken from drunken conversations Harrison had with Ringo Starr.
Cream recorded this a week after they played their last shows: 2 sold out performances at Royal Albert Hall in England. It was one of 3 studio recordings on their last album. The rest of it was filled with live cuts.
Cream had broken up by the time this was released. Clapton was already working with his new group, Blind Faith.
This is one of the shortest Cream songs. They were known for their long, improvised jams. The Wheels Of Fire live album, for example, contains only 4 songs.
This is one of the few Cream songs that Eric Clapton sang lead on, as Jack Bruce usually handled vocals. Also, this is the only Cream song to include 5 people: in addition to Clapton, Bruce, Baker and Harrison, Felix Pappalardi played the piano and Mellotron. Pappalardi was the producer of 3 of Cream's 4 albums (Disreali Gears, Wheels Of Fire, and Goodbye) and contributed by playing a wide variety of instruments on those albums.
Clapton ran his guitar through a Leslie speaker cabinet to create a swirling sound. The Leslie Cabinet contained a rotating paddle and was designed for organs, but many musicians tried it with guitars. Jimmy Page used the technique on "Good Times, Bad Times."
The song titles were written on tombstones inside the album, leaving little doubt that it was their last.
Clapton had played on Harrison's album Wonderwall the previous year, and on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which was released the same month as this.
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