Cream (some consider the first “supergroup”) was formed in 1966 by Eric Clapton (guitar), Ginger Baker (drums) and Jack Bruce (bass). All three were in successful groups and considered excellent instrumentalists. They released 3 albums: Fresh Cream (1966); Disraeli Gears (1967); and Wheels of Fire (1968). “White Room” was the first song on Wheels of Fire. Bruce wrote the music; Peter Brown, a poet, the lyrics.
“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.” Peter Brown, Song Facts interview.
The song has been covered “frequently, and by a bizarre group of artists: [including among others] Broadway star Joel Grey, the Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyptica, fusion guitarist Frank Gambale, the Bluegrass-inspired Cache Valley Drifters, and heavy metal band Helloween. That wildly eclectic list proves that ‘White Room’ is a multi-faceted song, containing equal parts dramatic spectacle, intricate musicality, and hard rock menace. Other artists emphasize different elements in their interpretations, but the original Cream version wrapped it all up in one startling package.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic song review
Baker and Bruce had a troubled history together causing the band to break-up in 1968. Persuaded to do one more album and a tour (Good-bye), it was all over by 1969.
A new generation was introduced to this song when it was included on The Joker song track (2019)
In a white room with black curtains in the station
Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawn light 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
Songwriters: Jack Bruce, Pete Brown