Thursday, December 13, 2018

In the White Room

The song "White Room" off of British rock "supergroup" Cream's album Wheels of Fire. In a band comprised of heavy hitters such as lead singer and bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton. In a band with such strong individual members, it is a bit ironic that one of their greatest works "White Room" was written by someone outside the band.

The song was first built around the music itself. Jack Bruce wrote the music, then passed it on to his friend, famous poet Pete Brown to write the lyrics. He initially tried to write the lyrics about a sad hippie girl, but Bruce wasn't on board. Brown then looked back to an 8 page poem he had previously written, which eventually got reworked into "White Room"

The lyrics of "White Room" are certainly a question of quality over quantity. When Eric Clapton is your guitarist, you give him time to have a hefty solo. However, this means the lyrics of this song are not extensive. Nevertheless, they paint a complex picture, telling a story with beautiful undertones.
I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves
The meaning of the song is hardly hidden. It details the story of a man looking around at his life after his lover leaves, and he's unsure as to whether or not she will come back. He often references "the station", which we can assume to be a train depot. A lonely crowd is an oxymoron, but it emphasizes the sadness and uncertainty the speaker is facing. At the train station, there are many people milling about, but when the train leaves the only ones left are those left behind: the lonely ones. The speaker is willing to wait though, they refuse to lose faith. The place where the shadows run from themselves is a metaphor for himself. The speaker is a shadow, and he is running from the truth that he knows deep down, that his girl isn't coming back. Again, despite being surrounded by people in the same situation, there is no comfort to be gained. They are all equally and separately lonely.
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment
The first line here is a metaphor for tears. The silver horses are the tears, and the moonbeams are the path left behind them as they fall. Then, when the woman leaves at dawn, his contentment (her), leaves as well. It seems clear that neither of then is happy, but it is certainly not easy for her to leave. She is crying, distraught herself, yet still has the initiative to leave on her own. In hiding the meaning in metaphor, it adds to the quiet struggle both parties are in during this relationship. Clearly, they are not communicating well, and they are each suffering separately, just as the speaker suffers later in the midst of other lonely people.

The core of this song and poem's meaning is that people are nothing without others. No matter how much they may feel so, people are never alone. Through disguising meanings through metaphor, Brown emphasizes the importance of communication and compassion for people's happiness.

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