Cream’s “White Room” Lyrics Meaning

Cream’s “White Room” is a song that is highly-metaphorical. The term “white room” is derived from the song’s writer, Pete Brown, literally living in a white room in 1967. And what was particular noticeable about that juncture in time is that he stopped consuming drugs and alcohol. And accordingly, the lyrics featured throughout the song are widely interpreted as being about the singer’s on-again/off-again relationship with drugs. Another way it can be understood is as him recounting his association with a romantic interest.  And once again, this relationship doesn’t appear as if it is a consistent one.  And Brown has alluded to the idea that the “meandering” nature of this song is about both a romance and his relationship with substances.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Cream's White Room at

But regardless of its general ambiguity, “White Room” has proven to be a classic in a rock-music genre. This would indicate, to some extent, that fans have been able to derive their own meanings from its lyrics. However, there is definitely a story being told throughout, albeit a veiled one. And conclusively, we can say if nothing else that the singer appears to be somewhat of a depressed isolationist who is dealing with relationship/social issues.

Lyrics of "White Room"

Who wrote “White Room”?

“White Room” was written by Cream member Jack Bruce (1943-2014) along with a friend of his named Pete Brown. At the time the latter was known more as a poet than an actual musician.

In fact Pete Brown derived the lyrics of this song from a poem he had written earlier. And this poem in question was originally eight-pages in length.

Prior to that Jack Bruce had attempted to write his own lyrics to the instrumental he concocted. And in that regard, the track was originally entitled “Cinderella’s Last Goodnight” and was about, according to his own words, “some doomed hippie girl”.

Release Date of “White Room”

Polydor Records (UK) in collaboration with Atco Records (US) released “White Room” at various junctures during the course of 1968. It was the lead single from Cream’s third album, which is entitled “Wheels of Fire”.

Chart Performance

This track proved to be a moderate success at the time of its release, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It got to number 28 on the Singles Chart in Cream’s home country of the United Kingdom.

The song also charted in Australia, Austria, Canada and New Zealand.

However, despite this relatively-humble showing, “White Room” is still considered one of the best rock tracks in American music history.  For instance, Rolling Stone placed it at number 376 on its 2011 list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

Guitar World also placed it on its 2015 ranking of the “10 Greatest Wah Pedal Songs of All Time”. That is to say that legendary guitarist Eric Clapton most-effectively used a wah-wah pedal on this track.

Who produced this classic?

“White Room” was produced by Felix Pappalardi, who also played viola on the song.

And outside of Jack Bruce’s vocals and Eric Clapton’s guitars the other member of Cream, Ginger Baker (1939-2019), played the drums.

27 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    He’s going to Nam. Why else would there be a train station and she says no strings could secure her.

  2. Don says:

    Obviously England, dark roof country refers to black slate roofs widely used there. No gold pavements refers to poor neighbourhoods probably in London where the pollution has the starlings “tired”.

  3. George says:

    The lyrics do not need “meaning” it’s only about the sound, the cadence of the words as a melody that fits and sounds great! Don’t worry your sweet little head over it , unless you like to do that type of thing, just feel it and enjoy the music. Dylan’s lyrics were the same. The feeling and the music IS the meaning.

    • Ferrydriver says:


    • Steve says:

      What an interesting comment! Kudos to you for being open enough. I remember a smart Jewish musician I worked with saying “ I don’t know what I mean” proudly referring to his lyrics. That opened the door for me who was too often under the yoke of oppressive British stigma to be in control and know what I was talking about. Blow ‘em doors down!

    • Anonymous says:

      Nailed it!

  4. Slim says:

    It’s about You and Me; when we heard it as youths, and then, now…………….as old men, lying in the dark with our shadows running

  5. A fan says:

    Pure poetry… a stitch in time; relates to us lf we see it as such…

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s a legendary track and what makes it more legendary is the debate of its meaning. don’t desire to know what its about, just savour it.

  7. Hal Singer says:

    I do know this…it’s one of the hardest lyrics to try and memorize in your oldies band…and I’m usually pretty good with memorizing lyrics!

  8. Maelstrom says:

    I was just wondering. Lying here in bed in my white room with black curtains, listening to the music on the Bluetooth. Wow, what a world! Peace, man.

  9. Baba O’Riley says:

    The meaning?
    You’re 14 years old in your local corner store. Your friend is supposed to be minding the store for his uncle, but instead we’re out in the back room playing pinball, Gottlieb’s 1967 Kings & Queens, as featured in the movie “Tommy”.
    Play all evening on a couple of nickels and a whole lot of 6- ounce Coke’s, while listening to tunes like these.

    Was that the songwriters intent? Probably not, but that’s what I get out of it every time I hear it. ✌️

  10. Ronald Hobbs says:

    I always thought it was waiting for death in the White Room at the station waiting to take you away. Kudos for Mr, Brown for writing one of the most brilliant song lyrics of all time.

  11. Larry G says:

    I thought it was written in a police station after getting arrested while under the influence of LSD.

  12. Bob g says:

    I think the song is more about where it comes from than what it is about. Three very intelligent young people worked soberly and intently to be elite musicians, when they were near pinnacle of their craft, one or more of them messed around with drugs. The lyrics comes very close to being nonsense but the singing, drums and guitar work are masterful.

  13. Hip u out says:

    Its an ok record i dont think its iether so great or in amt way terrible..but i wouldnt fo much past an ok tune with sligjtly deeper lyrics attaches this is browns record bc if not for those.lyrics the tune itself is pretty empty .im just a bit sick and tired of mediocre tunes being called things like “masterpieces” brilliant etc ..unless youve heard stan kenton on full tilt you dont know what a ” Masterpiece even means

    True its.a.different bag but that doesnt mean anything..listen to count basie or stan kenton shorty rogers buddy rich elvin jones oscar peterson nat king cole of you truly hear masterpieces?

    White room has vibe it has a.soul.but i just.cant bring myself to call it a masterpiece not when im aware kmkw.wjat a REAL masterpiece is..brahms anyone? If you can call one thing by cream or the beatles masterpieces then im guessig youve never really understood the difference between masterpiece and a good.pop/ rock tune.this iS a world beyond rock metal and pop sure grwar pop tunes exist i just fall short of calling them masterpieces, i think that sounds silly if youve ever heard the other artists ive mentioned its a sad disservice to the true masters..nuff said?

  14. Peter Simmons says:

    A man is associating and commingling his depression and loneliness with the aura , sights and sounds, of a rail station. Brought by unrequited love or drug addiction? perhaps both.

    • Zajj says:

      Cool, I was going to add being a bit of a vagabond myself, he’s leaving the past behind, even a warm smile at a party is a crouching tiger. Unable to trust even your own interpretation of events so it’s best to be solitary. I thought it was irrelevant to compare to instrumental jazz musicians in a previous post. I’ve actually been highly trained in jazz comp for 57 years and this genre is not the same.

      • Andrew Phillips says:

        Always thought of it as verbal Impressionism. London was still very sooty in the 60s and city starlings can look a bit drab – especially if one is heartsick. ‘Gold pavements’ refers to the story of Dick Whittington. Female attention when you are young is both mysterious and comforting. Look in anyone’s eyes and whom you really see is yourself – Pete is reminded of a painting by Rousseau: “Tiger in a Tropical Storm”. So many wonderful evocations eg “Kindness in the hard crowd” . Jack’s voice is underrrated. It is a simple tune, but the new wah pedal was exciting at the time. Clapton may not be a jazzman, but he has a wonderful, timely, turn of phrase and this is his peak. All held down by Ginger’s assertive tribal tom-toms. Sublime, now and in memory – takes me straight back to my adolescent angst, loneliness and longing.

  15. Jean-Michel says:

    Nul ne peut précisément définir ce qu’il entend ; sinon en la particulière voie de ses propres expériences et pensées ! De ses rejets et de ses choix ! Et c’est ainsi que tout est travesti dans nos fictives impressions ! Soyons seulement réceptif de toute émotion en passage et infiniment ductile pour ne pas qualifier ou quantifier les Grâces que nos âmes gratuitement reçoivent . . .

  16. Anonymous says:

    Jack Bruce said he and Pete Brown were up all night trying to get the lyrics down. When the sun came up Listen to the song..

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