Music Column: “Jewell’s Flash to the Past”

In September of 1968, Cream, accompanied by Ginger Baker on drums, Eric Clapton on guitar and Jack Bruce on bass released “Wheels of Fire”– an album that would send the world into a spiral of epic proportions.

Beginning the album with the “White Room,” Cream established themselves by filling the song with drum breaks that soothe the soul and guitar riffs that shove modern-day preloaded trap beats to the floor screaming for their mommy.

Originally written by poet Pete Brown, “White Room” describes a realm filled with crippling depression and hopelessness. At the time that Pete Brown wrote “White Room,” the song was originally called “Cinderella’s Last Goodnight.”

“It was about some doomed hippie girl,” said Brown in his interview with Rolling Stone. “Jack [Bruce] didn’t like it… then I found this eight-page poem I’d written that had things about white rooms and other stuff in it… the band loved it.”  

So with the consent of Pete Brown, Cream adopted the poem’s beauty as its own.  

Throughout “Wheels of Fire” there is a common occurrence of structured melodies that add a leveled thought-provoking idealism to a not-your-normal rock and roll band. For instance, “Pressed Rat and Warthog” brings a psychedelic tone to a child’s style of storytelling. Others, like “Politician,” create a politically charged critique of the modern-day politician by ironically characterizing them stating, “I’m a political man, and I practice what I preach.”

Upon its release, “Wheels Of Fire” was given an appalling review by Rolling Stone magazine that claimed “White Room” was “practically an exact duplication of ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ … including the exact same lines for guitar, bass and drums.” If you listen to both songs, they are reasonably similar in structure, but nowhere near the level of relatedness Rolling Stone claimed. Despite the magazine spitting on “White Room” by labeling it a bad song, many argue that it is one of Cream’s best songs. That just proves that not everything you read has to be the truth.

Although Rolling Stone magazine dropped a nuclear bomb on the shores of “Wheels of Fire,” the human light-forces that occupy this world took to this album like ants to sugar-water, sending the album to number one on Billboard’s Top 100, where it would stay on top for 50 more weeks.

Rock Words of the Week:

Rock and roll, more importantly, music has a way of bringing different types of human creatures together in harmony and peace. If we, as a society, listen to the famous lyrics of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and allow love to part the ideas of hate, like Moses parted the seas, “love would never leave us alone.”


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