Weekend Jams: “What’s BADGE?!?”

We’ve always enjoyed the classic Clapton/Cream tune “Badge”, with its nasty bass line, cathartic vocals and guitar ripping by God.

A recent perusal of the Wikipedia entry reveals a pretty funny story behind this number:

It 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” — a notation intended to identify the transitional moment in the song. Clapton’s handwriting, however, was so bad, that Ringo Starr looked at it and thought it said “Badge” — so the band named it Badge.

Harrison told the story differently, however: “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)[2], or simply because an anagram of a guitar’s string tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) can spell “Badge”.

Badge represents perhaps the apex of Felix Pappalardi’s skills as both a producer, instrumentalist, and arranger. Note Pappalardi’s piano backup coming in at 0:09 of the song and following throughout, offering flawless counterpoint to Clapton and Harrison, two of the most prodigious guitar talents of the century.

The arpeggiated guitar part in the song’s bridge is similar to some of Harrison contemporary efforts with the Beatles, including, “Here Comes the Sun”, “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Carry That Weight”.

Now, isn’t the one of the most succinct, eye-opening and entertaining Wikipedia articles you’ve ever read?

Our musical consultant DJ Walls of Sound says, “The kind of drunk that Ringo was when he offered up swans living in the park is the kind of drunk I aspire to every time. What a genius.”

The song doesn’t appear to be on Youtube in its original studio incarnation, but here is a nice 80s version by Clapton with sweet bass playing by Dave Bronze…

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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