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Badge

by

Cream



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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. (thanks, Geoff - Lake Arrowhead, CA)
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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Comments (60):

When I was a kid I heard "Badge" was written about the medals The Beatles had received when they were honored as Members Of The British Empire. It wasn't, but its a cute story.
- Jef, Passaic, NJ
"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." Despite his contribution to the song's lyrics, Ringo Starr is not credited as a co-author of "Badge".
- Jef, Passaic, NJ
Schulte: Absolutely not. It's 100% Clapton on vocals on the Goodbye album. It sounds nothing like Jack Bruce.
- Chad, Anna, TX
The lead voice on the original song is Jack Bruce. Eric Clapton never had this timbre.
- schulte, köln, Germany
the only thing that I'm 100% positive is the solo is definitely played by Eric. The riff, which is so good, it's very hard to tell.
my version is George wrote that riff but Clapton played it;
it would be great to ask Eric though to have the definite truth, I personally hope it's George who played it.
- bernard, paris, France
I have to continue my thoughts about the solo of this song. The lead solo's stutter step, half note, intro is mind numbing. I don't know whether to get up and answer the door or stay seated when Clapton or George plays it. After the solo rips through about 30 seconds, I confess and concede that I want to elope with the solo itself. Anywhere. The south seas, Norway, Don't care.
- Brian, Greenbelt, MD
First I agree a Rock classic bassline intro. Right there w/ "Sunshine as my top Cream tunes. Here's my (half serious) theory, Eric played the middle on "Guitar...." and George played the mid on "Badge". Actually the Badge guitar work did sound like George's "Abbey Road" style. Just like "Layla"'s style soared like "Guitar.." These guys were good enuf buds to have concieveably messed w/ people's head and switched leads............
- meocyber, alma, CO
I am a bit confused as to who did the solo. The bent notes make me think it was Clapton but why the heck won't he play the solo during his live performances as it is on the record? The stutter step lead half note intro is priceless and yet Clapton typically plays a muddled blues lead that goes nowhere during his performances. The same thing with Keith Richards. KR doesn't play that devilish , blistering intro lead for the "Sympathy for the Devil." I'm sure that George Harrison came up the the riff chords for the solo for Badge cos it's all over the Abby Road album. Anyway, "Badge" is the best Cream song and the solo is the best lead solo in rock history, except for maybe Page's Stairway lead or KR's / Page's Sympathy's lead (Oops, did I let a cat out of the bag?) Anyway, after decades of the song "Badge" whirling around in my head it continues to stay there. Lucky me.
- Brian, Greenbelt, MD
No organ on this track, it is E.C. playing the middle bit through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet, this according to Harrison! Yes Page, Frampton and others have also done this but the Beatles were the first! I met Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and he claims it was his idea to try it and I believe it's "Lucy in the Sky" that they used it on first followed by Lennons solo on "Yer Blues" George solo's on "Let it Be" "Old Brown Shoe" it's on a bunch of theirtunes!
- bob, sayreville, NJ
There's is no organ being played. The keyboards are a piano and a mellotron. Probably you hear the guitar going through the leslie cabinet.
- Barry, New York, NC
I was hoping someone could clear something up for me. The organ in this song seems undoubtedly to be a Hammond B3, but I can't find anywhere that it says it is put through the Leslie cabinet. Does anyone have that information? It seems to have an effect on it. Thank you!
- oola, sac, CA
Robert from FL, i agree with you about the bassline. It slapped me across the face the first time i heard it; im a teenage bassplayer also (well, i attempt). However, im pretty positive it wasnt clapton who played with george on the abbey road B side. Paul, john, and george all took turns during the solos. On another note, i find it ironic that some of cream's best lyrics came from ringo's drunken ramblings. Good old ringo.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
been speaking of the whole song but can't recognize as a person anymore...she just looks the same...seems to fit the rest of the lyrics describing the "girl." amazing song btw!!
- dustin, birmingham, AL
had anyone ever thought that this song at its most literal meaning is about a girl in harrison's life who's changed? as if the girl hes "talking about that looks alot like you" is the same girl he's
- dustin, birmingham, AL
To Bob from Montreal QC : The words that are being sung in the background are "Where is my Badge" :)
- Tony Brown, Adelaide, Australia
Can some seasoned individual like myself with the rock trivia please tell me if I was at all hearing "Burning my badge" as the chant in the background behind those remarkable solos leading up to the final,"cried away her life since she fell out the cradle ". line.
This has haunted me since my bar band- up in smoke- youth when we all jumped to conclusion over titles, lyric meanings,who plays what, etc. Is it possible they added a track after naming it by mistake??,,,I always summed the tunes name up probably mistakably by this, my own fabrication. Listen closely to what is probably "OOOO,yeah, yeah, yeah",,before you lash out at me for this one; It does sound like 'Burning my badge'.
- bob, Montreal, QC
+ Hans Yes, Boston and many other pot pushing, knob tweaking craftsmen have mined this tune. Not so much the intro though, I think most are ready to trade their soul quick for the chance to replicate the never-matched bridge with it's stoic lead in line (maybe the most coherent sentence in the lyric) "And you better pick yourself up from the ground before they bring the curtain down." Maybe that's where George wrote 'bridge'?
- Jim, Rochester, NY
Badge=Pure DaDa Greatness!
The only thing that could fit or really make sense is random non-sense. Some of the finest musicians of our lifetime coming into their prime. Making eternal music-magic out of what may have seemed at the time to be almost a throw-away. The song's one and only shortcoming is that it's just too short. It begs us to complete the verse about the girl who wouldn't wait on line. Still, maybe, even that one imperfection is what makes the creation so insanely fine.
- Jim, Rochester, NY
was not clapton who miss read bridge as badge.its was ringo walk in drunk, and and misread name of the song ? oh its badge! and he came up with line I tell you about the swans that they live in the park
- carl, patchogue, NY
i think to hear some of the intro back in more than a feeling (boston?)
- hans, amsterdam, Netherlands
No doubt about it. The best cream song ever.As a young Bass player, I was entranced by the opening line.Clapton and Harrison traded riffs near the end of Abbey Road, Side Two, if I'm not mistaken. The heavy fuzz sound on that one was Clapton.Makes you wonder just where Harrison fit in amoung the great lead guitarists of the time.
- Robert, Englewood, FL
The Badge melody is great but the mid-point guitar solo, which was played by Harrison, is one of the great moments in pop/rock music history.
- John, London, United Kingdom
About the solo riff, i agree. It is GH. You have to listen to 'It don't come easy'. George played
quite the same riff with the 'Leslie sound'.
- Jacques, Montreal, QC
The idea that Harrison wrote the signature solo riff, but that Clapton played it? I don't know. The sound and the fingering sound very much like Harrison. Is it possible Harrison dreamed it up AND played it? Almost the exact same riff is heard in the closing of Abbey Road under the lyric "1,2,3,4,5,6,7, all good children go to heaven." It pops up in various forms in other Beatles songs as well. That would suggest it was Harrison signature piece, because it doesn't appear in any other Clapton material that I can remember. (This may just mean that my memory is shot.)

Anyone have anything more definitive on this? Richard from Switzerland has an interesting comment, but since I don't play guitar, I can't test it. Richard is saying it is definitely Harrison playing the solo. Comments?
- Matt, Reno, NV
I like the melody of the song in every way.
- Confidential, Confidential, NY
"Our Kid" was apparently 60s-era Liverpool slang for "younger brother" and was a favourite Ringo-ism that was included in the nonsense lyrics of the song.
- S, Deep in the Heart of Texas, TX
Possibly my favorite Cream song, even if it isn't typical of their sound. Great opening guitar riff and the lyrics are as random as the title.
- Miles, Vancouver, Canada
"Eight Days A Week" was NOT a Ringoism. Paul was taking a taxi to John's house for a songwriting session, and asked the cabdriver how was he doing? The driver told Paul he was so tired, he felt like he was working eight days a week. Paul told John, then they wrote that song.
- Steve, Princeton, NJ
"Wheels of Fire" had a two studio sides and two live sides. The studio side has more than four songs the most famous of which is "White Room," still on playlists throughout the globe. Cream also did "Stormy Monday" at the Royal Albert Hall in May of 2005 with Clapton singing. The live versions of "Badge" and "Stormy Monday" were superb.
- Fred, Clifton, NJ
My favourite Cream song too. Love the opening bass line and that amazing solo at the end of the 2nd verse, how the words and music take you right up to it... then silence...then...he and Ginger just blow your mind. Far out!
- Guy, Wellington, New Zealand
Clapton sung on "Strange Brew" too.
- Rory, Charlotte, NC
Clapton also sang lead on "Crossroads" and sang partial lead on "Sunshine of Your Love".
- Rory, New York, NY
I did not know until today that Harrison collaborated on this song, but it is now and has always been my favorite Cream song.
- Barbara Finger, San Antonio, TX
I have a feeling this was written about Ringo and his alcoholism. George felt that Ringo should get his "act together". This is mentioned in the song, mostly all drunken talk.
- Jade, Sacramento, CA
God I love this song. This is my favorite from Cream.
- Chris, Sunnyvale, CA
If they had performed at Woodstock '69, I bet you all, they would of put on ONE HELL of a show!!!
- Steven, West Carrollton, OH
What was the heavy long sound Eric Clapton made at the end of Badge on there 2005
Royal Albert Hall concert? I didn't see him do anything in peticular. But is was a great sound!
- P J, OKC, OK
The way Ihear it is Clapton was over at Harrisons house and found the lyrics on the kitchen counter and was impressed with them?
- Bill otterbein In.
- William, AZ
Yes. You are quite right James. I realized that I was pretty shortly after I wrote that. Clapton did sing lead on those listed songs, and contributed at least some vocals on over half their songs. Ginger Baker also contributes some vocals on on several songs. The other information is correct though. It is kind of funny that I wrote that because I am a HUGE Cream fan and know a huge amount about them.
- Geoff, Lake Arrowhead, CA
This wasn't the only song Clapton sang lead on. The others are "Four Until Late," "Strange Brew," "Outside Woman Blues," "Crossroads," and he shared vocals with Jack on "Sunshine of Your Love."
- James, Tracy, CA
A very good Ringoism is Tomorrow Never Knows, one of the best Beatle songs...
- Gerard, Honikiwi, New Zealand
Eight Days A Week ISN'T A RINGOISM, read the Anthology book! Otherwise, good song.
- Jo-C, Lima, Peru
Can't say Cream never did this song live now - it was performed in the recent concerts in England & New York (I think?). The reunion came about because of health concerns, and they all wanted to do this while they still could.
- John, Kirkland, WA
Evan is right. That is 100% eric clapton on that solo. the repeatedly bent g note gives it away.
- Jim, Toledo, OH
There's no way Harrison played that solo-- it's more similar to Cream's guitar than to any Beatles recordings. Since Harrison co-wrote the song, Clapton seems to try to make most of it sound like a Beatles tune-- he even sings a lot like a Beatle.
- Evan, Fullerton, CA
Everyone thinks Harrison thought up the signature riff and Clapton played the solo, but it's actually the other way round! Try listening(and playing the solo) and you'll notice it's not very typical of Clapton at all.
- Richard, Zermatt, Switzerland
Harrison and Clapton both kick some major musical ass. George went under a false name on this, as many of the Beatles diid when appearing on other bands albums
- Josh, Erlanger, KY
Yes Nathon the bass line is pretty cool.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
great bassline
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
I like the version of this song that was released on the LP "Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert." This version has a lot more energy and guitar power than the studio version.
- Barry, New York, NY
Badge, which was never performed live by Cream made its Cream debut at the May 2005 Royal Albert Hall concerts.
- Barry, New York, NY
this song is about a tailor used by Clapton who died in a car accident. Jack Bruce named his first solo album "Songs for a Tailor", referencing the same woman
- steve, LA, CA
The baseline has to be mentioned. It's great.
- John, Millersville, MD
I love the guitar solo. Quite possibly Clapton's greatest.
- Sam, Chicago, IL
Great song... I love Clapton and Harrison's musical collaborations (<--I'm not sure how to spell that lol) ...
- Kel, Bucksport, ME
So as a matter of fact, Ringo should have had a song writer's credit for this one?
- Martijn, Helmond, Netherlands
I heard that Clapton misinterpreted the word "bridge" on the lyrics as "badge" and the name came from there. Great bridge, too...
- John, Calgary, Canada
The mandolin-ish sound heard on this song over the last verse is a Mellotron (an early tape-sampling keyboard used on the intro to The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" and a lot of other songs), set on a Mandolin setting and played by producer Felix Pappaliardi. That particular setting can also be heard on The Beatles' "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and (rather realistically) on The Rolling Stones' "Factory Girl."
- Elliott, Douglassville, PA
I saw Clapton at Madison Square Garden in '87. He never spends much time chatting up the audience, but he did stop to tell a story just before he did this song (which is fantastic live.)

He said when it was released the British press began dissecting its meaning, going so far as to suggest that it was a brilliant piece of political satire, and allowing that a certain government scandal of the day was referenced by "the swans that... live in the park."

Clapton, Harrison and Ringo thought this all very amusing as Clapton remembered someone simply writing down the gibberish eminating from Ringo's mouth one night when they were all loaded. Harrison & Clapton were picking out random tunes, began riffing off each other, and Ringo started a drunken rap.

What the hell, that's probably as good as any other political satire.
- D, Philadelphia, PA
That's funny, I always thought b-a-d-g-e were the chords in the song, mistaken by Harrison to be the title.
- monica, grapeville, PA
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